Three Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) networks, Esperanza Health Centers, Heartland Health Centers, and PrimeCare Community Health, with support from the Cook County Health (CCH), have been awarded grants totaling more than $2 million for a two-year period  from The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for alcohol and opioid addiction in the communities they serve.  This collaborative effort to expand the treatment of addiction with medications comes at a crucial time as Chicago’s substance abuse epidemic continues, and traditional funding sources for addiction services remain at risk.

“Esperanza, Heartland, and PrimeCare offer comprehensive primary care in communities across Chicagoland. Together they saw a tremendous opportunity to help their patients by establishing much-needed substance abuse treatment services in primary care settings where they are not only easily accessible but also culturally competent,” said Dr. Mark Loafman, Chair, Family and Community Medicine, CCH.

Through a combination of behavioral therapy and FDA-approved medications, MAT is used to help individuals beat opioid and alcohol addictions. It is estimated that more than 15,000 patients will benefit from substance abuse screening through the FQHCs, with clinic-based interventions, including MAT, readily available for those who need it.

The grant funding allows the FQHCs to expand the number of addiction-trained primary care providers, social workers, counselors and case management services for patients receiving MAT. CCH’ addiction psychiatrists and behavioral health staff will provide the FQHC’s MAT programs clinical oversight, consultation services, training and technical support.

“Medication-assisted treatment is the gold standard for a severe opioid addiction,” said Dr. Andrew Segovia Kulik, Chair, Psychiatry, CCH. “Addiction is a disease to be treated just like any other illness. There are highly-effective medications and programming that can help an individual get and stay well. Our collaborative will provide thousands of people in Chicagoland with new resources to receive the best treatment possible.”

Together, Esperanza, Heartland and PrimeCare have more than a dozen clinic locations across Chicago.