Opioid Use Disorder Program Offered at UHealth Primary Care Clinics

A new opioid use disorder program is now available through primary clinics at the University of Miami Health System.

“We now offer a medication-assisted treatment program that has been shown to be highly effective in treating opioid addictions,” said Dr. Viviana Horigian, a public health specialist at UHealth.

This comes at a time when overdose deaths from the opioid epidemic contributed to the decline in life expectancy for people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The departments of Family Medicine and Internal Medicine implemented the Office Based Addiction Treatment (OBAT) program at two primary care clinics on the campus of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

“Patients can now be seen in a primary care setting that offers state-of-the-art medical treatment rather than going to a specialized substance abuse facility,” Dr. Horigian said. “It is more convenient for patients and removes the potential stigma when dealing with an opioid addition.”

The UHealth OBAT team consists of dedicated medical professionals who specialize in the treatment of opiate use disorder. A nurse care manager oversees a patient’s opiate use disorder in the same way other chronic health conditions are managed in primary care. Patients receive confidential medication-assisted treatment with buprenorphine or naltrexone, and are connected with UHealth specialty care providers and other health and social service resources as needed.

“Our program, which is supported by a federal grant, is designed to meet an important public health need in our community,” said Dr. Horigian who applied and received the grant for UHealth. “Nationally, only 10 percent of individuals with opioid use disorder are receiving treatment, so increasing access through primary care clinics is an important step forward in addressing the opioid epidemic.”

Dr. Horigian has long been an advocate for better national surveillance and reporting on the national opioid epidemic, which claims about 175 lives every day.  Expanding access to medication-assisted treatment and risk-reduction programs, such as clean syringe exchange programs, can play an important role in reducing the death toll.

The UHealth program is based on the “Massachusetts Model” developed by Boston Medical Center in the early 2000s.  This nationally recognized OBAT program serves as a model for facilitating access to life-saving treatment and improving treatment outcomes in patients with opioid use disorders.

To make referrals or schedule appointments to the UHealth OBAT program, call 305-243-8523, a private line.