In 2018, University of Kentucky (UK) HealthCare reported 400 cases of endocarditis, of which 73% were injection drug use-associated infections. To curb overdose deaths, ease the financial burden on healthcare, and improve patient outcomes, researchers worked with patients who need tools for recovery from opioid use disorder, such as mental health therapists, relapse-prevention services, and necessary medications. Poverty, unemployment, and legal issues are barriers, as well as transportation to treatment for those who live in rural areas—an issue that researchers say came up frequently regarding their patients. Limited access to clinics due to COVID-19-related closings has been a challenge to treatment recently. Among referrals to the program thus far in the ongoing study, 69% were eligible, among whom 625 enrolled. Among them, 35% are receiving medication-assisted treatment and 14.8% are being managed by the UK Infectious Diseases division. Among patients with other service data available, 88% were dispensed naloxone, 47% received relapse prevention services, 25% engaged in peer support, 18% participated in self-help groups, and 20% received transportation aid. “This program shows proof of concept that patients can be engaged in MAT by ID providers,” write the study authors.
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