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PBS TV Show Features & Praises Rio Arriba Response to Opioid Epidemic


PBS TV Show Features & Praises Rio Arriba Response to Opioid Epidemic

ESPAÑOLA – In the late 1990s, Rio Arriba became the first county in the US to be struck by the now-familiar national opioid epidemic. Since that time, County Government through the Rio Arriba Community Health Council and its member agencies, have come together to develop what advocates call a cutting-edge public health response. The council has assisted member agencies to implement best practices, addressing a wide variety of strategies including case management, law enforcement, jail diversion, medication-assisted treatment, harm reduction, residential treatment and care coordination.

Rio Arriba was awarded a Behavioral Health Investment Zone (BHIZ) grant by the NM Behavioral Health Services Division in 2015 to implement a double pronged strategy. To immediately decrease the overdose death rate, the Rio Arriba Community Health Council (RACHC) and its member agency, Santa Fe Mountain Center, aggressively distributed Naloxone, a life-saving drug that reverses overdoses, to those in need in the community. All Rio Arriba Sheriff’s Deputies and Española Police Officers were trained to use and equipped with naloxone kits. Naloxone is also being dispensed to inmates and their families upon release from detention.

Rio Arriba is also assisting RACHC member agencies to form the Opiate Use Reduction Network to coordinate care. Network members will be able to jointly case manage clients, sharing information and best practices for the purpose of providing clients with all levels of care and every service offered to maximize their opportunity to achieve full recovery from Substance Use Disorders. Participation in the Network makes it easier for member agencies to transition clients to other services upon discharge.

To date, Rio Arriba’s efforts appear to have resulted in a drop in overdose deaths of 30%. In its first year, the network has resulted in clients being able to access detox services when needed, in successfully transitioning from residential services at Hoy Recovery, Santa Fe Recovery and other residential facilities to aftercare for at least 85% of clients served (above the legislative target of 67%), and in at least 90% of clients served accessing two or more services within 30 days (above the legislative target of 40%).

PBS producers and correspondents filmed at diverse locations in Rio Arriba, including a Rio Arriba Community Health Council Outreach Task Force addressing Fentanyl, Hoy Recovery Program and medication-assisted treatment at El Centro Family Health and Las Clinicas Del Norte. They rode along with a Rio Arriba Sheriff’s Department vehicle and the Santa Fe Mountain Center Needle Exchange van and visited the Rio Arriba Health Commons.

PBS Newshour will be featuring the Rio Arriba response through its nationally televised series America Addicted, Friday, October 13 at 6 pm MT (8 pm ET). Locally, the episode will air on KNME Channel 5 in New Mexico.