In order to better reach those with substance use disorders, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is awarding $4.4 million in funding for 15 mobile units to provide screening, assessment, treatment, primary care and recovery support services.
NCDHHS’ Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services is leveraging funds from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and directing them to three to Locally Managed Entities/Managed Care Organizations to purchase these units.
LME/MCOs increase access to much needed care for thousands across North Carolina.
"Like the rest of the country, North Carolina has seen an increase in overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Chief Deputy Secretary for Health Kody H. Kinsley. "Meeting people where they are, especially in our rural communities, is a key priority and critical to responding to this crisis."
Community outreach through mobile clinics is an effective way to provide substance use and other health care services in communities.
"Mobile units can greatly reduce or even eliminate barriers to treatment for individuals with substance use disorder," said Deepa Avula, Interim Director of DMHDDSAS. "They help us provide equitable care to all communities."
Funds were provided to the following LME/MCOs who expressed interest in using mobile units in underserved communities with limited access to treatment options:
- Eastpointe received $2,500,000 for the purchase of six mobile units
- Partners Health Management received $515,000 for the purchase of two mobile units
- Trillium Health Resources $1,420,000 for the purchase of seven mobile units
Preparations are underway to begin offering services in the communities these LME/MCOs serve.
Trillium has partnered with providers such as Monarch, RHA Health Services and Port Health to increase access to treatment for members with substance use disorder and other healthcare needs.
“This pandemic has provided physical evidence to the disparities experienced by people of color and rural residents in our health care system,” said Cindy Ehlers, Executive Vice President with Trillium. “If provider locations are not accessible or available, people often miss basic treatment or procedures for preventable conditions. Trillium is excited to work with these providers to meet our communities where they live to help ease access and improve their well-being.”
Eastpointe has purchased six RVs to deliver mobile substance use services to increase accessibility across rural areas. Each RV will offer peer support, access to evidence-based therapies, case management to address social determinants of health and distribute naloxone to help prevent overdose death.
"Eastpointe is thrilled to have the opportunity to expand access to these evidence-based services," said Eastpointe CEO Sarah Stroud. "This investment is another example of our dedication to helping deliver community-based care to every corner of our 10 counties."
Partners Health Management is launching two mobile Community Response Units. One of these units will be supported by Phoenix Counseling Center, which will be dispatched with local law enforcement negotiating teams to provide behavioral health assistance. The other Crisis Response Unit will be supported by Catawba Valley Behavioral Healthcare to provide crisis intervention and other health-related services.
"Each person and each community is unique and we know the most effective care is delivered locally," said Rhett Melton, CEO with Partners Health Management. "We are privileged to have the opportunity to partner with Phoenix and CVBH to meet our members and families where they are and offer the highest quality care in the communities we serve."
Mobile units are currently operational in Perquimans, Pasquotank and Chowan counties, and all will be operational by Spring 2022.