Opioid Crisis

Anne Hazlett, Senior Advisor for Rural Affairs for the Office of National Drug Control Policy met on Friday, May 24, with representatives of Columbia Pacific CCO and with representatives of the community organizations who are putting opioid mitigation into practice.

A top advisor from the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy is taking her first-hand look at work being done to mitigate the opioid crisis in Oregon with her to Washington D.C.

Anne Hazlett, Senior Advisor for Rural Affairs for the Office of National Drug Control Policy met on Friday, May 24, with representatives of Columbia Pacific CCO and with representatives of the community organizations who are putting opioid mitigation into practice. Columbia Pacific CCO is the coordinated care organization that manages the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) on the northwest Oregon Coast.

Columbia Pacific CCO, a member of the CareOregon family, has made reducing opioid-related harms and death a high priority. Its focus is on:

  • Raising public awareness of opioid risks
  • Reducing inappropriate opioid prescribing
  • Identifying individuals at high risk; intervening to divert from chronic use
  • Treating opioid use disorder and dependence

“With Columbia Pacific CCO’s leadership, we’ve been able to develop medication-assisted treatment (MAT) from one small service in Columbia County to programs in every county,” CareOregon Behavioral Health Clinical Integration Advisor Leslie Ford said. “It is equally important to develop alternatives to opioids for treating chronic pain, as we have with the Wellness Centers in each of the Columbia Pacific CCO counties — Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook. And the role of developing partnerships to get the work done is critical and a strength of the CCO.”

Hazlett visited the Tillamook County Community Health Center to learn about the MAT program, as well as the offices of Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare and the MAT partnership between Clatsop Behavioral Health and Columbia Memorial Hospital. The visit also included Seaside at the site of the new methadone clinic.

"Access to treatment in rural areas is a high priority for this Administration," Hazlett said. "The innovative activity in Clatsop and Tillamook County to address this tremendous need is an exciting example of harnessing local assets to build healthy, drug-free communities now and for generations to come."

Hazlett also learned of the role the CCO has played in leading the effort to build partnerships and provide critical funding to get opioid mitigation programs launched.

“Overall, we spoke of the work Columbia Pacific has helped to lead, and partner with clinical and community partners to help the communities address the opioid epidemic and truly start to turn the tide by starting MAT programs in a region where a few years ago, there were hardly any,” Columbia Pacific CCO Mediacl Director and MD Safina Korieshi said.

Hazlett said she was able to witness firsthand the barriers that rural communities face, such as geography span, transportation, recruitment and retention, when they try to expand services in regions where the services are so lacking yet very much needed.

The organizations who are starting these services are on the forefront of changing and saving lives. The work that CareOregon and Columbia Pacific CCO are doing helps inform those who are attempting to address the crisis that has overwhelmed medical and behavioral health resources and is especially challenging in rural areas.

For more information, contact Elise Burke, at 503-416-3736, or at burkes@careoregon.org.

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