WEST BEND — Almost 50 additional patients can receive opioid-related treatment next year and services will be expanding throughout Washington County, thanks to a state grant. The Human Services Department has been awarded the $293,000 grant through the State Opioid Response (SOR).

Human Services Department Director Julie Driscoll said she is thrilled to receive funding for the second year through the State Opioid Response Grant, especially now with the drug court pilot to begin with the new year.

“We will continue to fund residential care, medication-assisted treatment, intensive outpatient services as well as care coordination and case management,” she said. “We will continue to fund Vivitrol injections, but will also be increasing our psychiatry time in the mental health clinic to offer Suboxone or Sublocade. The costs of these medications can be upwards of $1,000 to $1,500 a month without insurance.”

Other pre-existing services and medications will continue and expand with this grant, especially for helping uninsured and underinsured patients.

In comparison to last year, the county was given about $225,000 for a nine-month period, so this year’s increase in theory means more support for those affected.

“This is a significant amount of funding for Washington County, especially given the flexibility of the dollars,” Driscoll said. “We proposed to serve 45 additional individuals with this increased funding.”

But there is a downside to applying for grants on a yearly basis.

“It is challenging when funding is doled out one year at a time; it’s hard to plan and implement long-term strategies when you are unsure if funding will continue year-over-year,” she said.

So while there is never a guarantee services will continue from one year to the next, for at least the next year the county is in a better position to tackle this growing crisis, she said.

“This will allow us flexible dollars to ensure access to treatment and follow-up care for individuals struggling with opioid use disorder,” Driscoll said. “We proposed a lofty budget and are pleased that the state funded us at 75 percent of our original ask.”

This partnership with the state to combat the opioid epidemic has worked well thus far, she said, and she hopes it can continue.

“The state has been a great partner in ensuring that federally legislated dollars are pushed down to the county level, so that they can directly impact residents in need,” Driscoll said. “As we see different needs arise the state has been open to changing where we spend the funding, so that we can assure it is serving a true unmet need in Washington County.”

On the county’s end, she said they will continue to apply for funding, so as long as the state supports their needs, programs, medicine and preventative efforts will continue.

Looking at a breakdown of the funding, some money will go toward a clinical outreach worker for long-term alignment of care offered in Washington County, Driscoll said, including helping opioid users and their family find treatment.

“We have done a fantastic job in setting up structures in partnership with the criminal justice system to ensure access to treatment,” Driscoll said, “but we want to try and prevent users from entering the criminal justice system and get into services and treatment before committing a crime.”

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