New Fund Looks to Help Stem Tide of Opioid Crisis

Apr 26, 2017

Credit Brandon Giesbrecht / Flickr

For the record number of people addicted to opiates in Virginia, help is on the way.

Consider the scenario: After an overdose, an individual who is hooked on opioids goes to a hospital to make it through the immediate crisis. But what happens next? Shanel Beard at Madeline Centre in Lynchburg says now that person will be able to stay in the hospital and get additional treatment, instead of being released. That’s thanks to a $16 million fund to reimburse agencies for providing treatment to Medicaid patients.

“Prior to this funding, a person was placed in the hospital for up to three days and they were detoxed. Then they were given a piece of paper that said you can go see this agency for continued treatment, and a lot of people got lost in that transition.”

Half of the money comes from the federal government, half from the state. Rose Bono at Virginia Commonwealth University says that money will help people struggling with addiction stay out of harm’s way.

"If they have a lower tolerance to the drugs that they were taking and then take the same amount, they are at a higher risk of overdose.”

The new money for treatment services comes in the midst of a crisis public health officials say is an emergency. In the first half of 2016, fatal overdoses increased by 35%.