Taking a Leadership Role
As Michigan grapples with how to curb the devastating impact of opioid addiction, the Community Foundation is taking a leadership role.
The Michigan Opioid Partnership, a public-private collaborative including the State of Michigan and key philanthropic partners, is working to reduce opioid overdoses and deaths through prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and sustained recovery. In addition to the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, which is the home for the combined effort, the Michigan Opioid Partnership includes the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the Superior Health Foundation, the Ethel and James Flinn Foundation, and The Jewish Fund.
While the Community Foundation has a long history of leading programs in partnership with government and other foundations, it typically focuses its work on southeast Michigan. Given the urgency of the problem and the diversity of the organizations that are committing resources to addressing the issue, the Community Foundation is stepping beyond the boundaries of the region and lending its support and expertise to the statewide effort.
Attacking the Crisis
In 2017, drug overdoses killed nearly 2,700 people in Michigan, with 2,053 of those deaths attributed to opioids, according to the latest MDHHS statistics. According to a Centers for Disease Control report, overall drug overdose deaths in Michigan exceeded traffic and gun deaths combined in 2017. The Michigan Opioid Partnership recently announced a $5 million effort to aggressively attack the problem.
In its first round of grants, the partnership will help support pilot projects that use medication-assisted treatment (MAT) — an evidence-based treatment for opioid addiction that usually includes both medication and behavioral therapy.
Initially, the effort will work with two hospital systems —Beaumont Hospital in southeast Michigan and Munson Medical Center in northern lower Michigan — to conduct pilot programs to identify patients who have been admitted for medical or surgical care and in emergency rooms. In addition, they will provide end-to-end treatment that extends into outpatient care, in partnership with community-based organizations.
A “No Wrong Door” Approach
Using the “no wrong door” approach, the effort will also aim to identify those with substance abuse disorders who are entering jail and coordinate care. The Wayne State University Center for Behavioral Health and Justice received a grant to coordinate the effort. County jails will also be selected for funding, to work in partnership with the Wayne State team to serve inmates with addiction. Additional grants will be announced in the coming weeks.
MAT uses U.S. Drug Administration-approved drugs to treat addiction. The approach has been most successful when those who are first provided treatment in emergency rooms are given a “warm handoff” to continued outpatient medication-assisted treatment and behavioral therapy. This approach — which has been piloted in California and Massachusetts — has shown to reduce relapse and overdose.
The Michigan Opioid Partnership aims to build on these promising results.
“If we’re going to tackle the opioid crisis and get Michigan families on track to recovery, we need to build strong partnerships between state government, philanthropy, and the medical community,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in announcing the partnership. “I’m grateful for this partnership and am ready to work with this team and everyone else who wants to reduce opioid deaths here in Michigan.”