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, assessed the six grantees individually and as a cohort to analyze outcomes.
In September 2020, RIZE extended the Enabling Health program and evaluation for an additional year to support the grantees as they adjusted their services to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some noteworthy 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.
Below are some key insights from the program outcome report:
- Grantees worked with over 41,000 people—an average of 463 participants per month—providing over 107,000 contacts and distributing more than 2.2 million harm reduction materials.
- Linked 887 new patients and re-engaged 297 former patients into buprenorphine treatment.
- Extended assistance to participants interested in medication treatment with methadone and other addiction treatment, providing care to over 1000 participants during the evaluation period.
“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.”