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MAT Expansion Project Will Help Underserved Individuals Seeking Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

Ellsworth – Healthy Acadia, a nonprofit (501(c)3) community health organization serving Hancock and Washington counties, is pleased to announce a $1.5 million three-year grant award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to support the Downeast Maine MAT Expansion Project, an initiative to provide treatment and support for individuals facing substance use disorders, with a strong focus on those with Opioid Use Disorders (OUDs), throughout Washington and Hancock counties, Maine. The Project places strong emphasis on individuals who are most vulnerable, including those who are incarcerated, and those who are uninsured, underinsured, and/or seeking care at an emergency department.

The Downeast MAT Expansion Project is a collaborative effort of Healthy Acadia, health care providers, and the Downeast Substance Treatment Network and Downeast Substance Use Response Coalition; groups that include integrated health systems, hospitals, clinics, community-based organizations, law enforcement, community recovery organizations and representatives, faith-based organizations, and other local coalitions. The primary goals of the Project include expanding access to high quality medication-assisted treatment (MAT) services by reducing treatment barriers, and enhancing MAT services for individuals seeking treatment by increasing the number of providers with treatment expertise through training and implementation of best management practices. The new Downeast Treatment Center (406 State Street, Ellsworth) will support individual stabilization and initiation of intensive MAT services and will work in partnership with providers across Hancock and Washington counties to provide ongoing care.

Key components of the Project also include leveraging Healthy Acadia’s growing volunteer peer recovery coach system in the two counties in order to improve access to, and retention in, MAT services and to support long-term recovery; developing and implementing pilot programs to increase access to MAT for incarcerated individuals and to support emergency department rapid screening and MAT access; and expanding tobacco cessation services: studies have shown that patients in treatment for drug/alcohol use who quit using tobacco are more likely to stay drug/alcohol free than those who continue to smoke.

Healthy Acadia has hired Washington County resident Penny Guisinger to serve as manager for the Downeast MAT Expansion Project. Guisinger has over twenty years of experience in the nonprofit sector, and holds an MA in Public Policy from the Muskie School of Public Service. “The impacts of substance use disorders on our community are devastating,” said Guisinger. “We are losing neighbors, family members, employees, and friends at a terrifying rate. It’s an honor to lend my skills to this effort. It’s clear that not one of us is immune from this public health crisis. I can’t think of a more important focus.” To learn more about the MAT Expansion Project, email Penny Guisinger at Penny@HealthyAcadia.org or call 255-3741.

Healthy Acadia is a community health coalition dedicated to building vibrant communities across Hancock and Washington counties by making it easier for people to make healthy choices for themselves and their families. Healthy Acadia is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, working with hundreds of partners to create lasting improvements to health by connecting individuals with health supports, building partnerships, coordinating education and prevention services, and improving policies and environments. Learn more at www.HealthyAcadia.org.

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