James Anderson, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA
Project Name: “Meeting the Need: Optimizing the Utilization of Physician Assistants (PAs) in Opioid Treatment Programs”
Current SAMHSA policy specifies that only physicians may admit patients and write medication orders in federally approved opioid treatment programs. In April of 2015, SAMHSA announced a process whereby opioid treatment programs could request an exemption to the guidelines, allowing PAs (and NPs) to be approved by SAMHSA to fully function in federally-approved opioid treatment program settings. This process is widely unknown and underutilized. In order to increase PA utilization in opioid treatment programs and increase the availability of medicated-assisted treatment in such settings, this project will identify and promote resources to assist PAs in navigating the SAMHSA exemption process. The project will illustrate the scope of the opioid epidemic, underscore the need for increased treatment opportunities for patients with opioid use disorders, examine the evidence about the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment in opioid treatment programs, and increase the opportunities for PAs to participate in the much-needed care modality.
As the nationwide opioid epidemic continues, the enhancement of PA utilization in opioid treatment programs is essential in reducing the extensive morbidity and mortality related to opioid use disorders. This project will do so by increasing PA awareness of the treatment of opioid use disorders; conducting an evidence-based literature about opioid use disorders and in the role of PAs in treating opioid use disorders; mapping the opportunities to participate in opioid treatment programs; enhancing networks of PAs interested in participating in opioid treatment program-based care; and identifying and connecting other stakeholders in such an effort.
Sandra Alexander, PA-C
Project Name: “Carolina Partners in Mental HealthCare Recovery Services Pilot Program”
Due to variable structure of office-based opioid treatment (OBOT) centers, some patients that were in more regimented programs such as a detoxification center or federal opioid treatment programs (OTPs) that step down to office-based opioid treatment or treatment for their substance use disorder have been witnessed to have difficulty with the lack of structure in these environments, either relapsing and returning to the previous more structured environment or back onto the street without care.
The goal of the project is to plan and follow an implementation strategy for an integrated recovery services program that can be easily adapted at other locations to facilitate the expansion of a structured, patient-centered integrated office-based opioid treatment and co-occurring disorders program, providing the community with a program designed as a step-down facility from detoxification center or OTP.