CRANSTON – Rhode Island’s national reputation for its innovative approach to curbing opioid-addiction deaths using medication-assisted treatment at the R.I. Department of Corrections attracted the interest and praise of philanthropist Michael Bloomberg during his Nov. 26 visit to the Adult Correctional Institutions.
According to Gov. Gina M. Raimondo, Bloomberg contacted her to request the visit to learn more about the program.
CODAC Behavioral Healthcare administers treatment in this program and helps ensure recently released inmates continue to have access to services they need. The Cranston-based organization helps screen inmates and provides all three Food and Drug Administration-approved medications for the treatment of opioid-use disorder. They also provide other services to help individuals on their path to recovery.
“CODAC Behavioral Healthcare is extremely gratified by Michael Bloomberg’s recent visit to our state. Our staff regularly meets with several out-of-state officials who have shown an interest in understanding how the MAT program works, and we are always willing to help other states implement similar programs,” said Linda Hurley, president and CEO of CODAC. “We are among the few states to have seen a decrease in overdoses, and findings from Brown University researchers suggest the RIDOC MAT program is having a real impact.”
In 2016, Rhode Island established the nation’s first comprehensive medication-assisted treatment program in its corrections systems that provides treatment to anyone in the correctional system with opioid-use disorder. The program was shown to reduce opioid-overdose deaths among inmates by 61 percent.
Bloomberg visited with a team to learn about the RIDOC MAT program, and to congratulate state leadership and health care workers who are addressing the issue, which he says has no boundaries. He said his interest was inspired by findings that show the RIDOC MAT program has contributed to a decline in overdoses across the state. Rhode Island is one of the few states reporting a decline in deaths from opioid overdose.
“Thank you to Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo and all of the state officials, medical professionals and law enforcement officers who are taking on the opioid epidemic,” Bloomberg wrote on his Facebook page about the program. “It’s a national emergency with devastating consequences, but progress is possible. Their hard work is proving that, and the whole country is grateful for this state’s pioneering efforts.”
Raimondo also took the opportunity to praise the health care workers, recovery specialists and inmates who are contributing to “ground-breaking, path-breaking work.”
Rob Borkowski is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Borkowski@PBN.com.