ELLSWORTH — Healthy Acadia has received a $1.5 million three-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to support the Downeast Maine MAT Expansion Project, an initiative to provide treatment and support for individuals facing substance use disorders throughout Washington and Hancock Counties.
The initiative has a strong focus on those with Opioid Use Disorders (OUDs). The Downeast Maine MAT Expansion Project is aimed individuals who are most vulnerable, including those who are incarcerated, those who are uninsured, underinsured, or seeking care at an emergency department.
The Downeast MAT Expansion Project is a collaborative effort of Healthy Acadia, health care providers and the Downeast Substance Treatment Network and Downeast Substance Use Response Coalition.
These groups include integrated health systems, hospitals, clinics, community-based organizations, law enforcement, community recovery organizations, faith-based organizations and other local coalitions.
The project’s goals include expanding access to high quality medication-assisted treatment (MAT) services by reducing treatment barriers, and enhancing MAT services for individuals seeking treatment by increasing the number of providers with treatment expertise through training and implementation of best management practices.
The new Downeast Treatment Center, located at 406 State Street in Ellsworth, will support individual stabilization and initiation of intensive MAT services and will work in partnership with providers across Hancock and Washington Counties to provide ongoing care.
Key components also include leveraging Healthy Acadia’s growing volunteer peer recovery coach system in the two counties in order to improve access to, and retention in, MAT services and to support long-term recovery.
The project also involves developing and implementing pilot programs to increase access to MAT for incarcerated individuals and to support emergency department rapid screening and MAT access.
The work also includes tobacco cessation services, as studies have shown that patients in treatment for drug and alcohol use who quit using tobacco are more likely to stay drug and alcohol free than those who continue to smoke.
Healthy Acadia has hired Washington County resident Penny Guisinger to serve as manager for the Downeast MAT Expansion Project. Guisinger has over twenty years of experience in the non-profit sector, and holds an MA in Public Policy from the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. “The impacts of substance use disorders on our community are devastating,” said Guisinger. “We are losing neighbors, family members, employees, and friends at a terrifying rate. It’s an honor to lend my skills to this effort. It’s clear that not one of us is immune from this public health crisis. I can’t think of a more important focus.”
To learn more about the MAT Expansion Project, contact Guisinger at [email protected] or 255-3741.