Portland, Ore. — After receiving approval from the Portland City Council Wednesday, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) is set to launch a Mobile Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) pilot on February 5, 2024. This collaborative effort involves PF&R, Multnomah County Health Department’s Emergency Medical Services division, Oregon Poison Center, and CareOregon. The primary objective of the program is to offer immediate access to opioid use disorder medication and follow-up recovery services to patients undergoing treatment for an opioid overdose when first responders answer a 9-1-1 call.

The City’s Community Health Assess and Treat (CHAT) team will present patients with the option to enroll in the pilot program at the time of the 9-1-1 response. This approach aims to avoid utilizing essential resources to transport patients to an emergency room. Providing opioid use disorder medication during a 9-1-1 response has demonstrated success in reducing overdose fatalities, connecting individuals to desired services, and maintaining engagement in substance use disorder treatment. The pilot program will operate within CHAT’s normal operating hours, from Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Richard Bruno expressed optimism about the program, stating, “Being able to provide life-saving medications for opioid use disorder at the time the paramedics respond versus waiting for patients to arrive in the emergency room or following up at a clinic is a promising method to reduce overdose deaths and pave the way for lasting recovery for community members.”

In addition to providing medication, the CHAT team will offer to directly connect patients with treatment centers offering comprehensive services for substance use disorder, including drug counseling, patient navigation, and after-care services. If a patient declines connection to a treatment center, the CHAT follow-up team will re-engage with the client to offer services and resources based on an assessment.

CareOregon is contributing $389,577 to fund the pilot program, with the contract lasting through June 30, 2025. Success metrics for the program include the number of times CHAT administers medication for opioid use disorder, the number of unique patients served, the number of times CHAT dispenses naloxone, referrals to treatment clinics, patients establishing care at the clinic, and the number of patients remaining in the program after 30, 60, and 90 days.

Portland City Commissioner Rene Gonzalez highlighted the urgency of addressing the opioid crisis, particularly in Old Town/Chinatown, and commended the Mobile Medication for Opioid Use Disorder Pilot. The program, led by PF&R’s CHAT nurses, will focus on administering naloxone (Narcan) and buprenorphine during active overdose crises, aiming to save lives and block severe withdrawal symptoms. CareOregon’s generous support and collaboration among Portland Fire & Rescue, Multnomah County, and other partners underscore the collective effort to address the crisis with the necessary urgency.

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