Concord hub and spoke portal brings in newcomers to SUD treatment

Monitor staff
Published: 2/4/2019 5:33:57 PM

It’s taking off – slowly. A month into the creation of a statewide “hub and spoke” treatment system, Concord’s intake center has seen a modest but steady stream of users seeking services.

Riverbend Community Mental Health, which manages Concord’s hub, has seen 22 people seek help since Jan. 2, according to Sarah Gagnon, vice president of clinical operations at the organization.

Eleven of those sought services for opioid use disorder, with another eight looking for treatment for alcohol use, Gagnon said. Three of the patients showed up for meth use.

Overall, 17 of the people contacting the hub have received services – 77 services in all.

The numbers reveal a light load so far for the Pleasant Street facility, one of nine hubs across the state. In comparison, 350 Granite Staters took advantage of the program statewide in its first 25 days, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“It hasn’t been a giant slam of people coming in; it’s been a slow and even trickle,” Gagnon said. But she added that increased advertisement from the state would likely lead to significantly more traffic down the line.

Launched last month, Concord and other funds are meant to provide an entry point for those seeking substance use or mental health treatment. The idea: Give those in need an easier means to get diagnosed and be connected to specific services.

Those seeking help can walk into their nearest hub or call a 24/7 hotline – 211 – which will refer them to an assessment appointment. Preliminary numbers from Riverbend indicate that people are opting for the phones.

Twenty of 22 people called 211 to get treatment in Concord, though of that 20, five did not show up for their in-person psychiatric assessments, Gagnon said. The other two were walk-ins.

Under the system, those who show up to an appointment at a hub may receive a psychiatric assessment and American Society of Addiction Medicine assessment to determine the services they require. They’re then connected with a case manager working for the hub and sent along to one or several of the relevant “spokes” for further treatment.

In Concord, those spokes have included Hampstead Hospital and Farnum Center in Manchester for detoxification, and intensive outpatient treatment programs at Riverbend and elsewhere, Gagnon said.

Gagnon said the center is aware that early entry numbers have been slow. But she pointed to an expected advertising boost from the Department of Health and Human Services, which may help spread awareness of 211 more widely. Representatives from New Hampshire’s 211 have warned hubs to prepare for a spike in patients once that campaign takes hold, according to Gagnon.

Presently, Riverbend’s hub includes a clinician, case manager and program assistant, Gagnon said, who have managed to divvy up the work. The organization is hiring for a peer position and may add on an additional clinician depending on demand.

For now, Gagnon is celebrating one apparent trend: Those entering the hub and spoke system appear to be relatively new to the system in general.

“For almost all of the people that we are working with, this is their first time seeking treatment,” Gagnon said. “We’re talking about people who have been using alcohol and opioids for 30 years coming in to get treatment.”

It’s a sign, she says, that the new treatment distribution system is already paying off.

“It tells us that there is a different population out there that the spokes couldn’t reach but that the hub is,” she said.

(Ethan DeWitt can be reached at edewitt@cmonitor.com, at (603) 369-3307, or on Twitter at @edewittNH.)




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