The Manitoba government will establish five rapid-access, front-line clinics across the province to treat individuals seeking help for substance-related addictions, including patients struggling with opiate, methamphetamine and alcohol addiction, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced today.
“These clinics bring together addiction treatment with health services, enabling patients to move smoothly between addictions medicine specialists, primary care providers and community supports. This will allow those in need to access help sooner, closer to home and with necessary ongoing support,” said Goertzen. “Manitoba patients, their families and experts in addictions and mental health have identified these clinics as an important step toward addressing long waits for treatment and the need for increased availability of services in rural and northern areas of our province.”
Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine (RAAM) clinics are modelled after a successful program in Ontario. They will provide assessment, counselling, the prescription of appropriate medication, and connect patients to community treatment programs and primary care physicians. The RAAM clinical team will provide ongoing support to primary care providers including mentoring, re-assessment and referral of patients.
Arlene Last-Kolb began advocating for better care following her 24-year-old son Jessie’s opiate-related death in 2014. She said RAAM clinics are a big step towards improving addictions treatment in Manitoba.
“When those suffering from substance use disorder are reaching out for help, the health-care system needs to respond quickly while providing ongoing support,” said Last-Kolb. “The establishment of RAAM clinics throughout our province will give Manitobans suffering from addiction a safe place to seek help that can save their lives.”
The clinic model is intended to treat any and all substance-related addictions and has been successful in relieving pressure on emergency departments in other jurisdictions by serving as a specialized source of support and treatment for patients who may relapse.
“These clinics will work closely with hospitals, emergency departments, crisis services, and primary care centres to get patients linked quickly into the addictions system for assessment, services and treatment,” said Dr. Ginette Poulin, medical director of the Additions Foundation of Manitoba.
“The clinics will reduce long waits and line-ups that often result in patients transitioning in and out of the health system. We look forward to these clinics having positive effects for Manitobans seeking help with addiction issues such as crystal meth and opioids.”
The clinics will engage physicians with enhanced competency in addictions medicine and collaborate with regulatory bodies to ensure appropriate education, tools and ongoing support are provided to health-care professionals. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba is regularly offering education for physicians in areas such as opioid replacement therapy. The College is also in the process of developing more tools and educational materials to assist prescribers in tackling this difficult issue.
“The integration of opioid replacement therapy into primary care will allow patients to be referred to a primary care physician or nurse practitioner once stable, for ongoing treatment and support in the community,” said Dr. Anna Ziomek, Registrar and CEO, College of Physicians & Surgeons of Manitoba. “This will also enable specialized clinics to focus on more complex cases.”
Approximately $1.237 million in funding through Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living will support this new model in existing clinics in Winnipeg (two), Brandon, the Interlake and northern Manitoba. Work to identify specific locations is ongoing with engagement of clinical leadership from the regional health authorities, Addictions Foundation of Manitoba and other key stakeholders, said Goertzen.
The clinics were highlighted as a successful model during extensive public and stakeholder consultations through the development of a soon-to-be-released provincial Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, commissioned in 2017. They will build upon other mental health and addictions services offered in Manitoba, including the Provincial Naloxone Distribution Program, which will receive an ongoing annual commitment of $100,000, Goertzen added.
In addition, an electronic health record system with specific instruments for the continuum of child and adult crisis, inpatient and community mental health services is being initiated by the Northern Regional Health Authority, building upon the success of a provincial pilot project. These health records will provide standardized data collection, reporting tools and tracking to streamline coordination of services towards improving mental health outcomes for children, youth and adults.
For more information on the Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, visit https://www.gov.mb.ca/health/mha/strategy.html.
For more information on addictions services, visit http://www.gov.mb.ca/health/mh/addictions/index.html.
For more information on mental health crisis and non-crisis regional services, visit http://www.gov.mb.ca/health/mh/crisis.html.