In several weeks, people with an addiction to opioids will be able to walk into a health care clinic in Bangor and receive medication that day to help them in their treatment and recovery process. It will be the first known time in Maine that people will have same-day access to Suboxone in a primary care setting.
By June, Penobscot Community Health Care’s Union Street center plans to offer same-day access to the medication regardless of whether people are official patients, in an effort to reach those most at risk of overdose, including people who have been recently released from jail and people without permanent housing, said Noah Nesin, vice president of medical affairs for PCHC.
Providing same-day access will have a ripple effect. With the guarantee of a provider able to provide immediate follow-up care, St. Joseph Hospital will be able to consistently initiate Suboxone treatment in its emergency department, said Jonnathan Busko, the hospital’s emergency department medical director.
Emergency room physicians who are not specifically certified to prescribe Suboxone are allowed to administer up to three days of the medication to relieve patients’ acute withdrawal symptoms, under federal rules. That “three-day rule” has allowed some hospitals in Maine, such as Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, to begin the treatment process in the emergency room as long as providers in the community have the capacity to continue treating the patients after the three days are up.
Erin Rhoda is editor of Maine Focus, a journalism and community engagement initiative by the Bangor Daily News.
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