Erie St Clair LHIN Tackling Opioid Crisis Head On

Erie St. Clair LHIN CEO, Ralph Ganter, speaks at a funding announcement for the Leamington site on September 28, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

The Erie St Clair Local Health Integration Network is creating a local task force to deal with the opioid crisis and reduce accidental deaths.

The LHIN is also adopting a proven model called Rapid Addiction Assessment Medicine, which partners methadone clinics with acute care hospitals to treat people with addictions.

Dawn Maziak, mental health manager with the LHIN, says the goal is to get greater knowledge of treatment options and reduce use of the emergency department.

“We would pull patients from the emerg and connect them to specific methadone doctors. So, it’s medical management as well as being able to work with primary care practitioners who are already working with their patients who are in high dosage,” says Maziak.

A Health Quality Ontario report released in May shows that people in the Chatham, Windsor and Sarnia areas are the highest opioid users in Ontario.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health based in Toronto says 500,000 to 1-million Canadians are addicted to opioids.

The LHIN says opioid abuse is the #1 cause of death in some parts of North America.

Maziak says the LHIN is ready to roll out the new model.

“To be able to have that shared care model between the primary care physicians and those addiction specialist physicians, we’re going to help taper those patients down safely and then the most important is that we’re going to offer our patients choices,” Maziak says.

Maziak says the LHIN is working hard to remove barriers and address opioid addiction head on.

“We do not have a robust therapeutic structure yet. So, we lack therapy in the evenings, on weekends and in day program structures to balance out our addition system,” says Maziak.