Boston medical center launches new opioid urgent care center

October 17, 2016

BOSTON - Boston Medical Center (BMC), in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), has launched a new opioid urgent care center to give patients with substance use disorders rapid access to a full continuum of treatment services.

This new model of treatment for substance use disorders is funded by a four-year, $2.9 million grant from DPH to expand access to medical and mental health treatment for patients with substance use disorders, including opioid use disorder. Building on BMC's expertise in addiction treatment and in collaboration with BPHC and DPH's Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, the Faster Paths to Treatment Opioid Urgent Care Center rapidly links patients to an enhanced and integrated system of addiction health care delivery through inpatient and outpatient treatment services, detoxification, and follow-up care.

"We have learned from experience that one of the biggest barriers to effectiveness in treatment for substance use disorder is timeliness," said Edward Bernstein, MD, an emergency medicine physician at BMC who will serve as the program director for Faster Paths. "This grant will help us create a more comprehensive system of care that will allow a greater number of patients to access the services they need, when and where they need it and to further BMC's commitment to provide exceptional care without exception."

Faster Paths patients receive intake triage, comprehensive assessments and referrals to addiction treatment and primary care, opioid overdose education, naloxone rescue kits and follow up which is facilitated by licensed alcohol and drug counselors, as well as the transportation and community based support services from the recovery specialists with BPHC PAATHS.

In addition, Faster Paths has its own dedicated medication treatment outpatient program, staffed by an addiction nurse, physician and a master's level addiction counselor who provides appropriate patients with buprenorphine/suboxone induction and stabilization as well as vivitrol treatment. After these patients are stabilized, they are enrolled in maintenance programs at their local community health centers or at BMC.

Faster Paths, which is housed in BMC's Yawkey Ambulatory Care Center, integrates and enhances BMC's existing addiction services, including Project ASSERT (Alcohol & Substance Abuse Services, Education, and Referral to Treatment); Office Based Addiction Treatment (OBAT) programs; the inpatient addiction consult service; and BPHC's PAATHS (Providing Access to Addictions Treatment, Hope and Support) program.

"We know that timely access to treatment is crucial to saving lives, that's why the Baker Administration has made expanding access to treatment such a high priority. As we address the stark reality of losing four Massachusetts residents per day to the opioid epidemic, we must support evidence-based, innovative approaches like this to reverse this deadly trend," said Dr. Monica Bharel, the state's public health commissioner, who recently toured BMC and met with the Faster Paths team.

"We're thrilled to continue building on our strong partnership with BMC and DPH to further streamline the way we bring services to one of our most vulnerable populations," said BPHC Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH. "We have so many crucial services to offer in this Recovery Road neighborhood and the continuum of care helps us ensure that no life falls between the cracks, and that each person gets the care he or she needs even as those needs evolve."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28,647 overdose deaths in the U.S. involved some type of opioid, including heroin. In 2015, 1,379 people died of an overdose in Massachusetts. Boston EMS transported 2,601 patients with narcotic issues to area hospitals - and nearly 37 percent of those patients came to BMC.
Alexander Walley, MD, MSc, the medical director of BMC's addiction consult service, serves as the Faster Path's associate director, and Colleen LaBelle, MSN, RN, the director of BMC's OBAT program, is the medication clinic director. BMC's Adolescent and HIV Clinics, Project RESPECT, as well as the departments of family medicine, Adolescent Catalyst Program, addiction psychiatry, case management, and BMC's network of community health centers, also are collaborating on Faster Paths.

About Boston Medical Center

Boston Medical Center is a private, not-for-profit, 496-bed, academic medical center that is the primary teaching affiliate of Boston University School of Medicine. It is the largest and busiest provider of trauma and emergency services in New England. It offers specialized care for complex health problems and is a leading research institution, receiving more than $119 million in sponsored research funding in fiscal year 2015. In 1997, BMC founded Boston Medical Center Health Plan, Inc., now one of the top ranked Medicaid MCOs in the country, as a non-profit managed care organization serving Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine are partners in the Boston HealthNet - 13 community health centers focused on providing exceptional health care to residents of Boston. For more information, please visit

About the Boston Public Health Commission

The Boston Public Health Commission, the country's oldest health department, is an independent public agency providing a wide range of health services and programs. It is governed by a seven-member board of health appointed by the Mayor of Boston. Public service and access to quality health care are the cornerstones of our mission - to protect, preserve, and promote the health and well-being of all Boston residents, particularly those who are most vulnerable. The Commission's more than 40 programs are grouped into six bureaus: Child, Adolescent & Family Health; Community Health Initiatives; Homeless Services; Infectious Disease; Recovery Services; and Emergency Medical Services.

Boston University Medical Center

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