With funding from the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), Be Well OC is leading the Orange County MAT for Youth (OCMAT4Y) project, a care collaborative devoted to facilitating greater access to Medication Assisted Treatment for youth aged 14-24 experiencing Opioid Use Disorders. During the past quarter, the Be Well OC Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Leadership Initiative has focused on supporting our clinical, community and Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) partners during the COVID-19 response. Monthly meetings have been well attended with partners offering even greater support during this trying time and reinforcing the message to the community that medication assisted treatment (MAT) treatment is available for those in need. Maintaining continuity in referrals from core partners, such as correctional facilities and hospitals continues to be a high priority as rates of substance use and relapse are increasing during this time of social isolation, economic devastation and uncertainty as the public health crisis looms.
Be Well OC is also actively aligning prevention, education and stigma reduction activities developed under the California Youth Opioid Response (YOR) grant with the Orange County Community Suicide Prevention Initiative. Both initiatives focus on at-risk adolescents and outcomes targeting reduction in opioid overdose deaths and suicide.
KCS Health Center, clinical partner for the Orange County MAT for Youth (OCMAT4Y) project, is building a robust MAT program for youth and adults and expanding provider capacity to address opioid addiction across Orange County. During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth screenings have continued across all KCS programs to determine eligibility and appropriateness for referral to Youth MAT. From March – May 2020, 87 youths were screened and 23 were diagnosed with opioid use disorder (OUD), with 17 receiving MAT. Since the start of the OCMAT4Y project in August 2019, KCS has provided assessment and outpatient treatment for substance use disorder to 531 youth between the ages of 14-24.
The SUD Leadership Initiative’s community-based partner, the Multi-Ethnic Collaborative of Community Agencies (MECCA), is leading outreach, prevention and education activities for OCMAT4Y aimed at increasing knowledge among teens and parents about SUD/OUD and how to access MAT and other resources in Orange County. Together, MECCA and nine multi-ethnic partner agencies have touched members of the community with substance disorder, opioid use disorder, and MAT awareness, education, and information over 23,000 times. This has been done through youth and parent trainings, social media and community outreach. For a broader reach, all outreach materials have been translated into the following seven languages: Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Khmer, Spanish, Farsi and Arabic.
Recently, MECCA had the opportunity to work with a young woman named Alex, who tragically lost her mother to suicide as a result of substance use. Alex courageously agreed to share her testimony with the hope that her story can provide healing to others in the community. View her story here.