News

Jackson health care innovators to be celebrated

Addiction and substance abuse is everywhere, even if it’s not obvious in an upscale community like Ashland. But in Ashland, the quickest gateway to treatment—not jail—just might be a uniformed police officer

Ashland Police Department has launched a new program to help people with substance abuse problems get the treatment they need.

That’s why uniformed police officers will be among doctors, nurses, hospital officials and clinic administrators at the first annual Spring Innovation and Improvement Conference and Luncheon Friday at the Rogue Valley Country Club. And why its program will be among four initiatives to earn an Innovation and Improvement Award.

The conference and the awards are presented by Jackson Care Connect (JCC), one of the Coordinated Care Organizations providing care for Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) members in Jackson County.

“There is a lot of tremendous work being done across Jackson County to improve the quality of care and access to it,” said Jennifer Lind, JCC executive director. “This conference is an opportunity for these groups to share what they are doing and our way of recognizing them for what they have accomplished.”

The programs to receive the awards include

  • Farm, Food, and Family program, with Family Nurturing Center relief nursery working with participants in the OnTrack Moms program of treatment for mothers. Thegarden-based program provides meaningful work skills training and teaches all aspects of growing food, from the garden to the kitchen.
  • Community-Based ParaMedicine, with Mercy Flights, the EMS provider in Jackson County. The program uses the highly trained EMTs to help identify people who use emergency rooms frequently, often inappropriately. They connect them with primary care and other services, and follow up.
  • Centers of Excellence, at Clinica. This innovative care model teams primary care providers with rheumatologists to give primary care providers ability to address many rheumatoid issues in that setting and to assure that referrals truly call for the specialist’s skills.
  • Gateway, with Ashland Police Department, collaborating with OnTrack and Asante Ashland Community Hospital.

Like many police departments, Ashland has equipped its vehicles with Narcan™ (naloxone), and taught its personnel how to administer the opiate antidote.

It has taken an additional step, offering amnesty and treatment referrals to anyone coming into the police station to surrender heroin and ask for treatment. And police officers have discretion with people they encounter on the streets, to divert them for treatment for addiction to alcohol or controlled substances, rather than the short ride to jail.

“As law enforcement, we want to reduce crime, and we also want to create a greater sense of community trust,” said Warren Hensman, deputy chief. “It’s hugely important for police departments around the country to continue to build that trust with their communities.”

The program gives police officers another option to help them with their primary function as resolvers of problems. On neutral ground—Asante Ashland Medical Center—there is a place to wait for an OnTrack counselor, on call 24 hours a day.

“We’ve told our officers, ‘If you find an opportunity to help an individual, please do it if you can.’ Let’s spend an extra 10 or 15 minutes with somebody to get them the help that could be of great use to them,” Hensman said.

“If we can save can help one person, this is a success, end of story, any way you look at it.”

The Ashland police department initiative is brand new, only a few weeks old. But it’s modeled on a successful effort in Massachusetts that over the last year connected more than 400 people with treatment.

The four award recipients come from a pool of 36 organizations that participated in Jackson Care Connect’s reinvestment programs in 2015. Over the course of the year, JCC reinvested $9,571,047 in Jackson County health initiatives, including:

  • Primary care improvements, $955,686
  • Behavioral health initiative, $1,574,500
  • Access and member engagement, $2,428,600
  • Reinvestment of quality pool funds (earned by meeting state-set quality goals), $3,057,255
  • Care transitions and coordination projects, $1,555,006.

“As a Coordinated Care Organization, our mission doesn’t end with providing health insurance for Medicaid members,” said Anne Alftine, JCC director of clinical integration. “To achieve our goals, we must make our communities healthier and health care more accessible and of higher quality. The work being done by these organizations represents long strides toward these goals.”

Spring Innovation and Improvement Conference and Luncheon
Friday, May 6, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Rogue Valley Country Club
2660 Hillcrest Rd, Medford

For information about this story, contact Ginger Scott, transformation specialist, scottg@careoregon.org.

For information about Jackson Care Connect, contact Jerry Rhodes, 503-416-3718, rhodesj@careoregon.org.





Top 5 Health Articles