Opioid treatment set to expand into rural areas of the Northstate


RED BLUFF, Calif. - Opioid treatment could be easier for those in rural parts of the Northstate as services through Aegis Treatment Center expand.

The southern California based company already has an outpatient treatment center in Chico and a medication clinic in Redding. They also looking to expand to Red Bluff and Burney after receiving a grant the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Aegis Northern Regional Clinic Manager Judson Lea was in Red Bluff Monday for a meeting with Tehama County Health. He said, "There's a huge need when you look at some of the California opioid surveillance dashboards there is a high rate of overdose."

Up to $970 million was awarded over the next two years. Lea said about $88 million was given to California and five grants awarded to Aegis in Humboldt, Redding, Chico, Marysville and Roseville.

The goal is to allow rural communities access to services and treatment. "The main goal for us from the grants is to get more Suboxone in the hands of patients who are struggling with opioid use disorder and couple that with behavioral therapy to help reduce overdoses," said Lea.

Larry Taylor helps out with community outreach for his church and said he noticed the need first hand. "A loss of reality, where they're at today where they've come from where they're even going because of dependence on various drugs. we see it all the time," said Lea.

The system is called "Hub and Spoke" and modeled after a similar system in Vermont. Lea said each spoke will have buprenorphine doctors, nurses and councilors and also help local opioid coalitions. If a patient's case is complex and cannot be properly taken care of in that community, they can travel to the hub for treatment.

Lea said the Burney Basin was placed on their radar after talking with officials in Shasta County but placing a facility there could be challenging.

"The goal for these rural areas and the spokes is to really help and develop their system in that area. When you look at some of the rural distances from each other and from their population transportation is a huge issue and so is recruitment," said Lea.

Each spoke would also offer individual counseling, case management, crisis counseling and group counseling.

The grant is good for two years and expires August 2019 but Lea was confident that would be extended through Medi-Cal.