UVA Health creating social medicine program for opioid use disorder

Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 5:35 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - For many people with opioid use disorder, accessing treatment can be half the battle to recovery.

A new grant for UVA Health aims to bridge the gap to care for patients from around the state.

Leaders with the team treating people with opioid use disoder say the best treatment in the world is no good for people who cannot access it.

“Just getting here, transportation, transportation is a huge barrier,” said Kelly Shorling, a licensed clinical social worker with UVA Health. “And then we find that people just are lacking a lot of their psychosocial needs. So they don’t have food, they don’t have shelter, they don’t have support. They don’t have childcare, they have outstanding legal issues that just keep building and building and building. So sometimes those end up taking precedent over being able to seek treatment.”

The grant, provided by the Essential Hospital’s Institute, will last for a year. It starts in July and is set to fund up to $50,000. Along the way, UVA Health will consult with peer health systems in its cohort to share best practices for helping people find recovery through these wraparound services like housing.

“Part of the way we hope to help people is not only through rent support... needing kind of that down payment on the on a rent or that first month’s rent or whatever it may be that a landlord may have requires,” Shorling explained. “Sometimes even short term stays in hotels can be possible.”

UVA Health treats patients from around the Commonwealth. Patients will be screened to maximize the reach of the grant.

Shorling and her team hope to use this grant to help patients get back home and maintain their recovery with continued support. While the grant is set to last just one year, they hope they can prove the efficacy of this program, and find sustained funding to keep it going.

UVA Health also operates a free statewide opioid helpline, operated by UVA’s Center for Leading-Edge Addiction Research.

You can call 1.877.OPIOIDS. Patients in need of assistance may also contact the clinic directly at 434.924.2241.