TeleWell Indian Health Program Medication Assisted Treatment Project
In response to the opioid crisis in Indian country!
Image from California Opioid Surveillance Dashboard
Our mission is to partner with California Indian health clinics and the Native communities they serve by integrating culturally sensitive healing modalities and best practices. We accomplish this by providing direct care, mentorships and supportive services. Our goal is to improve access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid disorders and associated conditions.
Our vision is healthy, vibrant, productive Native American families and communities thriving with the ability to function free from the impact of addiction.
Identify the problem
Issue: Opioid overdoses are at an epidemic level in the United States. The problem epidemic is particularly acute in certain sectors of our society, including in tribal and urban Indian communities.
Strategy: The TeleWell Behavioral Medicine IHP MAT Project aims to expand access to medication assisted treatment (MAT) in California Indian Country, as MAT has been proven to be effective for preventing deaths by opioid overdose.
Objectives: The objective of the California MAT Expansion Project is to treat opioid use disorders utilizing a chronic disease model and expanding access to buprenorphine MAT services, thereby preventing opioid overdose deaths. The TeleWell Behavioral Medicine IHP MAT Project aims to carry out these same objectives in Indian Country in a manner that is culturally-informed.
Scope of Project: Our project is focused on California Indian Country. We provide MAT treatment of opioid use disorders and treatment of co-occurring conditions in addition to providing technical assistance to programs wanting to develop their own MAT program. Clinical services are delivered via telehealth technology. Technical assistance is provided via a combination of onsite visits, tele-videoconferencing and other electronic means.
Our project was developed after the 21st century CURES Act was enacted by congress in 2016 to deal specifically with the US opioid epidemic. Most of the funding associated with this act was transferred to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) who then distributed funds to every US state and territory to develop their own opioid epidemic response programs. The California Department of Healthcare services Substance Use Disorder Division received approximately $100 million. DHCS was the only state agency in the country to develop a project specifically for Indian Country. This is referred to as the California Tribal MAT Project. This overall project is composed of several sub-projects to include the MAT Champions Project, Two Feathers Suicide Prevention Project, Tribial Project ECHO, UCLA/USC Needs Assessment Project, development of a tribal Drug Medi-Cal entity, and the TeleWell Indian Health Program (IHP) Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Project. The TeleWell IHP MAT Project is composed of 3 primary components:
Who is eligible to participate?
Any IHS funded tribal and Urban Indian Health Program.
How much service is available?
Technical Assistance is available on request by any IHS funded program. It is provided through a combination of On-site visitation and TeleHealth Conference. The project is also funded for 32 hours of Direct-to-Clinic telehealth services per month.
When do services begin?
Technical Assistance began in May 2018, and Direct TeleHealth services began October 2018.
How long will services be available?
Though the project is only funded by SAMHSA through August 2022, it is our expectation that most IHPs will have developed their own treatment programs. For those programs still requiring specialty addiction psychiatry services, development of new Drug MediCAL based funding sources will be available to sustain this need.
These services are available across the state of California.
Imagine Native American communities that are free from the scourge of opioid addiction.
Imagine fewer children being separated from their families.
Imagine less violence, incarceration, poverty, health problems and death.
Imagine the cultural benefit of minds and bodies free of chemicals that block spiritual connection and growth.
Imagine the lasting impact of healthy, vibrant, productive Native American communities on future generations.