Enabling Health

In October 2018, RIZE launched the Enabling Health: Enhancing Harm Reduction Services in Massachusetts grant program focused on innovative and collaborative harm reduction efforts.  The grants were used to start pilot programs and enhance existing ones using novel and effective approaches to harm reduction.  The grantees, chosen for combining harm reduction efforts with strong linkages to treatment programs, are:

 

  • AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod
  • Fenway Health (Boston)
  • Greater Lawrence Family Health Center
  • HRH413 (Northampton)
  • Kraft Center for Community Health (Boston)
  • Life Connection Center, Inc. (Lowell)

The six community-based programs provide evidence-based treatments to populations most adversely affected by the opioid crisis. They deliver care through mobile health units, one-on-one harm reduction services, outreach in under-resourced communities, and to the hardest to reach, such as those experiencing homelessness.

To evaluate the programs’ effectiveness, a team from Rhode Island Hospital, led by Dr. Traci Green, is assessing the six grantees individually and as a cohort to analyze outcomes.  Highlights from the first year and a half of evaluation include:

  • Innovations are occurring within the programs, such the integration of drug checking and mobile buprenorphine induction
  • Mobile outreach vans are engaging an average of 250 individuals per week
  • Over the course of one month, an average of 50,000 syringes are distributed and returned
  • Naloxone and safety supplies are distributed regularly at brick-and-mortar sites, mobile units, and through street outreach workers
  • Clinical partnerships are facilitating warm hand-offs for engagement in buprenorphine maintenance treatment (BMT)
  • Growth in engaging minority clients and women

In addition to evaluation of the cohort, a separate evaluation of the effectiveness of a mobile drug checking spectrometer is also being conducted by Tufts University School of Medicine. The research is finding that drug checking helps individuals change behavior and empowers staff with knowledge and enables them to enrich their outreach skills.

 In September 2020, RIZE extended the Enabling Health program and evaluation for an additional year to support the grantees as they adjust their services to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Some exciting innovations were borne from the pandemic including, telephonic supports/virtual clinical assessment, virtual support groups, mobile syringe/safety kit delivery, full-service outdoor facilities, and COVID testing.  These new interventions will be included in the final evaluation.

“RIZE’s investment in our program will help us overcome the opioid crisis in Lynn and we look forward to sharing a successful model of treatment for our most vulnerable population with other communities in Massachusetts.”

Kiame Mahaniah, MD, CEO, Lynn Community Health Center