RIZE Massachusetts, an independent nonprofit foundation working to end the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts, announced today that it has extended its inaugural grant program, Saving Lives, Improving Health: Redesigning Opioid Use Disorder Care, and will distribute an additional $700,000 to support three grantees: Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Brockton Neighborhood Health Center and Lynn Community Health Center.
“These grantees have shown remarkable progress in implementing the goals of this program as they help ensure individuals in their communities have access to necessary opioid use disorder treatment,” said Julie Burns, President and CEO of RIZE. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only made their work more challenging, and it is our hope that this additional phase of funding will provide continuity in the fight to end the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts.”
RIZE initially distributed $1.8 million in June 2018 for the two-year grant program, with the objectives of improving the health and quality of life for individuals with opioid use disorder, or OUD. Saving Lives, Improving Health focuses on collaborative approaches to expanding access to community-based treatment and aims to establish or expand a system of low-threshold programs, on-demand access to short-term treatment, and support for long-term treatment.
The additional year of funding, through July 30, 2021, will provide stability for the grantees as they respond to COVID-19 and adjust to planning for the provision of programs and services post-crisis.
“The extension will allow RIZE to evaluate the grant program further and learn about the experiences of addiction treatment during a pandemic,” Burns said. “That way we will have a better picture of what the “new normal” will look like.”
About the Grantees
Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) will receive a $250,000 grant. Over the course of the previous grant period, BHCP and its partners initiated more than 1,100 patients into medication for OUD treatment. It built out a “RIZE Room” so that people at high risk of overdose can be medically monitored, provided harm reduction services and given treatment options. It also initiated a training and trauma support services program for its frontline staff. Additional grant funding will support the continuation of these services in light of many changes BHCHP implemented in order to respond to the pandemic, including deployment of staff to Boston’s COVID-19 field hospital, “Boston Hope.”
Brockton Neighborhood Health Center (BNHC) will receive a $200,000 grant. Through a coalition of local partners, BNHC has established reentry protocols with Plymouth County Correctional Facility by embedding a re-entry coordinator during certain hours in the week to coordinate services for individuals upon release. BNHC also established a rapid referral process, and links to and support from recovery coaches. Over the last two years BNHC initiated 475 patients into medication for OUD treatment. Additional grant funding will continue to focus on reentry planning supports and those experiencing homelessness, keeping in mind the work BNHC has done to support local efforts in the fight against COVID-19.
Lynn Community Health Center (LCHC) will receive a $250,000 grant. LCHC has developed the Faster Pathway Program that deploys outreach workers to the community to assist those experiencing homelessness in gaining access to OUD treatment at its outpatient clinic attached to the Recuperative Care Center, a respite program for Lynn’s homeless population. To date, over 200 individuals have been engaged in recovery services. Due to safety and social distancing protocols, LCHC adjusted its street outreach program by reducing staff in the community; additional funding will allow LCHC to continue with the full scope of the outreach team and reinstitute staffing at partner organizations.
“We realize we were one of the few organizations chosen from about three dozen applicants as stewards of the Saving Lives initiative, and are honored that RIZE is funding the Brockton community for a third-consecutive year,” said Sue Joss, CEO at Brockton Neighborhood Health Center. “This support has helped us fund critical work at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility, and continue our impactful outreach efforts – efforts that we know are helping to improve health and save the lives of our community’s most vulnerable members who suffer from opioid use disorder.”