SAN DIEGO (CNS) — The California Bridge Behavioral Health Navigator Program awarded $480,000 Wednesday to four local Scripps Health hospitals to support medication-assisted treatment in emergency departments for opioid use and associated mental health conditions.
The grant marks the fourth consecutive year that Scripps has received funding through the program. All of Scripps' hospital campuses with emergency departments received funding this year: Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego, Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas and Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista.
"We're excited to receive this important funding, which will help us further elevate and advance our MAT program across Scripps Health to benefit our patients in need," Dr. Cara Bergamo, emergency medicine physician at Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego and MAT program leader at Scripps Health, said in a statement. "Over the past four years, we have built a substantial MAT program and this new funding will allow us to continue to optimize treatment and support to our patients with opioid use disorder."
The California Bridge Behavioral Health Navigator Program "provides financial support and technical assistance to help hospitals develop, maintain or expand capabilities to provide emergency department patients with equitable access to evidence-based care for these two types of illnesses," according to a statement from Scripps. Hospitals taking part in the program address substance use disorders as a treatable emergency condition, using certified substance use counselors to identify patients who would benefit from medication- assisted treatment and accessing other behavioral health services.
Scripps will use the funding to hire or maintain emergency department- based substance use counselors, educate health care providers about MAT and build a "stigma-free" environment that welcomes disclosure of substance use and provides rapid, evidence-based treatment, according to Scripps.
The state program will also provide Scripps with access to materials, training and technical assistance for navigators, clinicians, nurses and other hospital staff and stakeholders.
MAT uses medications, such as buprenorphine, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies for treatment of opioid use disorder. It is intended to reduce the stigma of opioid addiction and increase provider support in treating addiction. According to Scripps, in 2021, the MAT program at its hospitals helped drive a nearly fivefold increase in patients who were prescribed medications aimed at combating opioid use disorder.