Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) has partnered to bring rapid access addictions treatment closer to home.
HHHS launched a new Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) Clinic through its mental health services offices in Minden, starting as a one-month trial Dec. 1 and continued into the new year. It offers quick access to treatment for those dealing with substance abuse, primarily alcohol and opioids.
A RAAM clinic was previously available to locals in Peterborough since 2018, on a drop-in basis. But HHHS mental health services program manager, Beverlee Groves-Foley, said the distance proved too difficult for some.
“We’ve had many clients that needed the service but could not transport to Peterborough,” Groves-Foley said. “There’s no public transit and it’s quite costly to get people there … And so, with the increased need in the community, we want to ensure the community had access.”
The service is available two half-days a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, in partnership with Fourcast Addiction Services and the Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC). Support workers are available, as well as an addictions specialist at the PRHC through telemedicine. The clinic uses a harm reduction model and can offer assessments, opioid substitution therapy, counselling, and withdrawal management, with follow-ups arranged with primary care providers. Self-referrals are accepted.
“Our clients locally will be able to get a better, more comprehensive level of support in that area,” HHHS president and CEO Carolyn Plummer told her board Jan.28. “We’re happy to have it available locally.”
Groves-Foley said RAAM is typically a drop-in model so people can access the support whenever they are ready. But for now, they are scheduling appointments to arrange transportation.
“Transportation is such a challenge for most people,” Groves-Foley said. “The goal would be eventually having a drop-in model, but we’ll have to see how that works in Haliburton County.”
The clinic has been working well so far, she said. She added that there may be a perception it is mostly for opioid users, but most people using the clinic are doing so for alcohol.
“Alcohol is a large challenge for many people which affects their lives,” she said. “We do see a lot of clients that are looking to reduce their use.”
Groves-Foley said the hope would be to eventually have a space for it at the Haliburton hospital as well.
“It’s been a long time coming and I’m so pleased that it’s here,” she said.
People can contact HHHS mental health services at 705-286-4575.