Here is how to get on the MAT faster than ever.
When it comes to starting Suboxone, you may find that you will have to wait to get in to see a doctor. This can vary depending on where you live. In some cities, you can get an appointment the same week. Other areas have waiting periods as long as six months. The problem is that when you need help with opioid addiction, you need help right away.
Why are emergency room doctors not helping?
To be allowed to prescribe Suboxone, a doctor has to be certified with the federal government as a prescriber. Many ER doctors are not certified to prescribe Suboxone. However, federal law does allow ER doctors to prescribe up to three days of Suboxone, even without certification. Yet, still, many emergency physicians refuse to prescribe even a one day supply.
The problem is in the follow-up care.
When an ER doctor starts treatment, they want to know that the patient will be able to continue it. The problem with giving a patient only three days of Suboxone is that, if they do not have a clinic to go to right away, they will be back at the ER in three days. Rather than having this issue, most ER doctors would prefer not to start treatment if they know that the patient will not be able to get into a clinic for continued treatment right away.
Bangor, Maine solves the problem.
Last year, Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC), at their Union Street Center clinic in Bangor, Maine, decided to start offering same-day access to Suboxone. This was a big step because, previously, patients had to wait to get into a clinic and then go to psychotherapy first before starting Suboxone. PCHC decided that it was more important to provide high-risk patients with immediate access to life-saving medication rather than make them wait.
Here is how to make fast access to Suboxone possible.
To make same-day access to Suboxone possible, PCHC had to ensure that they had enough doctors to provide care. Each doctor can only see a limited number of patients. It took time and a substantial commitment to make this dream a reality.
Opening up capacity in the community helps ERs.
With more doctors available in an organized program, committed to providing fast access to Suboxone, ER doctors in the area can now confidently prescribe short-term Suboxone to their patients, knowing that they will be able to continue with their treatment.
Bangor, Maine, should inspire other communities.
Building this new program in Maine was a huge accomplishment. Unfortunately, patients still suffer without access to treatment in other areas of the country. It is time for local governments around the US to get on the same page and realize that providing access to medication-assisted treatment with Suboxone is a good idea. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, community health-care systems can study existing programs elsewhere to see how to implement a plan that works. Making Suboxone available quickly to the patients who need it most will save lives and help these patients to overcome their addictions and become productive members of their community.