Boston Medical Center opens opioid urgent care center

In collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Boston Public Health Commission, Boston Medical Center created a new opioid urgent care center to expand treatments for patients with substance abuse disorders.

The center is backed by a four-year, $2.9 million grant from the DPH. The Faster Paths to Treatment Opioid Urgent Care Center will treat patients through its integrated addiction health services in inpatient and outpatient settings.

Faster Paths, which is housed in BMC's Yawkey Ambulatory Care Center, integrates and enhances BMC's existing addiction services, including project ASSERT (Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, Education, and Referral to Treatment). This project, founded in 1994, entails screening patients for addiction as soon as they enter the facility to provide support to drug addicted patients to help them quit.

Faster Paths provides patients with emergency naloxone kits, referrals to addiction treatment, primary care and follow up care with licensed alcohol and drug counselors. Its medication treatment outpatient program is staffed by an addiction nurse, physician and a master's level addiction counselor who can administer buprenorphine or suboxone induction and stabilization, as well as vivitrol treatment to combat opioid dependence.

"We have learned from experience that one of the biggest barriers to effectiveness in treatment for substance use disorder is timeliness," said Edward Bernstein, MD, an emergency medicine physician at BMC who will serve as the program director for Faster Paths. "This grant will help us create a more comprehensive system of care that will allow a greater number of patients to access the services they need, when and where they need it and to further BMC's commitment to provide exceptional care without exception."

BMC is a leader in establishing best practices for the care of drug addicted patients. The hospital is the largest safety-net hospital and busiest trauma and emergency services center in New England. BMC provides essential care to Boston's most vulnerable patients. The strip just outside its doors has been dubbed the "Methadone Mile."

Opioid-related overdose deaths in the state of Massachusetts have been steadily rising since 2000. In 2015, an estimated 1,659 deaths were related to opioid abuse in the state.

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