Four Scripps Health hospitals have collectively received $480,000 in grant funding through the California Bridge Behavioral Health Navigator Program, which supports emergency departments statewide in their efforts to increase access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions.
This year’s grant award marks the fourth consecutive year that Scripps has received funding through the program, which aims to bolster emergency departments as primary access points where patients can receive prompt access to specialized care for these two health conditions. All of Scripps’ hospital campuses with emergency departments received funding this year: Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego, Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas and Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista.
The statewide program provides financial support and technical assistance to help hospitals develop, maintain or expand capabilities to provide emergency department patients with equitable access to evidence-based care for these two types of illnesses. Hospitals taking part in the program address substance use disorder as a treatable emergency condition, using certified substance use counselors to identify patients who would benefit from initiating MAT and accessing other behavioral health services.
“We’re excited to receive this important funding, which will help us further elevate and advance our MAT program across Scripps Health to benefit our patients in need,” said Cara Bergamo, MD, emergency medicine physician at Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego and MAT program leader at Scripps Health. “Over the past four years, we have built a substantial MAT program and this new funding will allow us to continue to optimize treatment and support to our patients with opioid use disorder.”
Scripps will use the new round of grant funding to hire or maintain emergency department-based substance use counselors, educate health care providers about MAT and build a stigma-free environment that welcomes disclosure of substance use and provides rapid, evidence-based treatment. The state program will also provide Scripps with access to materials, training and technical assistance for navigators, clinicians, nurses and other hospital staff and stakeholders.
According to the California Bridge Program, Scripps has more hospitals receiving grants in this year’s round of funding than any other health system in San Diego County.
Expansion of the MAT program at Scripps Health is supported by the health system’s Opioid Stewardship Program (OSP). Created in 2018, Scripps’ OSP aims to prevent future opioid dependence and optimally treat those with chronic pain and opioid addiction. The OSP is managed by an interdisciplinary committee of physicians, nurses and pharmacists, and is supported by Scripps’ executive leadership.
MAT uses medications, such as buprenorphine, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies for treatment of opioid use disorder. MAT aims to reduce the stigma of opioid addiction and increase provider support in treating addiction. In 2021, the MAT program at Scripps’ hospitals helped drive a nearly fivefold increase in patients who were prescribed medications aimed at combatting opioid use disorder.
The state-funded California Bridge Program was established in 2018 with a focus on offering MAT in emergency departments for patients with opioid use disorder. It was expanded in 2019 to begin using navigators in emergency departments to address co-occurring mental health disorders.
Scripps’ grant application was supported by Dr. Bergamo and Tanya Popoff at Scripps Mercy San Diego; Jacqueline Reardon, DO, and Robert Tice at Scripps Mercy Chula Vista; Neal Aaron, DO, at Scripps Encinitas; Eric Barroso, MD, at Scripps La Jolla; and Scripps OSP co-chairs Hina Ahmed, Siu Ming Geary, MD, and Beverly Harrell-Bruder, MD.
Learn more about Scripps Health, a nonprofit integrated health system in San Diego, Calif.