SAMHSA Awards SCCAD $1.5M Grant To Enhance SURRT Program

In a continued effort to address the nation’s ongoing mental health crisis and opiate epidemic, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA] last week awarded numerous grants to agencies to expand access to substance use disorder [SUD] treatments.  Among the initiatives funded was St. Charles County Ambulance District’s [SCCAD] Mobile Integrated Healthcare [MIH] network for SUD and Behavioral Health, which was fully funded in the amount of $1.5 million.

Since the onset of the opiate epidemic, SCCAD has taken an innovative approach to patient care – paired with prevention and harm reduction strategies, the District’s Substance Use Recovery Response Team [SURRT] garnered significant attention and was named 2017 Community Impact Program of the Year by the American Ambulance Association.  It has since become a model utilized by numerous EMS agencies throughout the United States and Canada.

“The primary goal of this initiative is to save lives and improve referrals to appropriate treatment and recovery supports for high-risk individuals,” said SCCAD Assistant Chief David Lewis.

The SAMHSA funding, which will be awarded over a four-year period, will enable SCCAD to expand   the SURRT program. Among the most notable enhancements to the program are a dedicated, 24/7 position available to immediately initiative treatment with the provision of field administration of buprenorphine – an FDA-approved medication used to stabilize patients and treat opioid addition. 

In the event of suspected opioid overdose call, a member of the MIH team will be dispatched along with the ambulance. Working with the patient, the team member may offer to initiate medication-assisted treatment, refer to program partners for inpatient or outpatient treatment, and address other critical needs.  

The newly dedicated position will enable the District to partner with area hospitals to offer SUD MIH services to individuals who self-present at the emergency department. Residents also may contact the District if they find themselves or a family member in need of assistance.

“Our vision for the program is that it becomes self-sustaining through our normal reimbursement pathways after the four-year grant period ends,” Lewis said.

In addition to SUD services, the District’s MIH network will work to address health inequities and social determinants of health. Program partners include Preferred Family Healthcare, Compass Health, St. Charles County Department of Health, Community Asset Builders, and the St. Charles City Fire Department, among others. The program will focus primarily on serving individuals under 200% of the federal poverty level, but no patient will be turned away.