Today, the Baltimore Sun wrote about a recent collaboration between OSI and the Baltimore City Health Department to develop a real-time tool to monitor how many drug treatment slots are available in the city at any moment. The hope is to streamline the process connecting those who seek treatment for substance use disorders to open beds in treatment facilities, helping to combat overdose deaths and reduce the stigma surrounding addiction. As the story notes, OSI made a $270,000 grant to the Health Department to launch the initiative.
The city’s crisis line staff currently uses a “low-tech” spreadsheet system, according to Health Commissioner Leana Wen. But, she said “we can do a lot better with connecting people.” This initiative responds directly to one of the 16 items in the Action Plan that came out of OSI’s 2016 Solution Summit, specifically number 1: “[C]reate an online platform with live, continuously updated data on available treatment slots and program capacity.”
“During the community meetings leading up to the Solutions Summit and the Summit itself, this came up time and time again as the number one priority,” says Scott Nolen (above, center, with Dr. Wen), director of OSI’s Addiction and Health Equity program. “We know that increasing access to treatment is one of the most certain ways to reduce overdose deaths.”
The goal of the tool is to strengthen treatment access across the city and enable service delivery and coordination between behavioral health providers, healthcare institutions, community organizations, and other city institutions.
In July, OSI Director Diana Morris joined Dr. Wen to announce support to fund a rapid response team to target outreach in real time when overdoses are reported in the city as well as to develop a public education campaign to fight the stigma of addiction by encouraging people to think of addiction as a public health issue rather than a criminal one.