View all blogs

HMA to Lead Jail-Based Opioid Response Program in Pennsylvania

In the nationwide effort to combat opioid use disorder (OUD), Health Management Associates (HMA) is expanding its successful Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) initiative to jails in Pennsylvania counties. The multi-tiered technical assistance approach, developed by HMA and implemented in the California correctional system, works to combat opioid overdoses by expanding access to treatment for OUD in jails and prisons.

This newest initiative is a collaborative effort between the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC), PrimeCare Medical, and Vital Strategies. Vital Strategies, the lead partner in a Bloomberg Philanthropies-supported initiative to combat the overdose epidemic in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, commissioned HMA to lead the project.

“On behalf of Secretary Wetzel, the PA DOC is very excited to move forward with this expansion,” said PA DOC Medicated Assisted Treatment Statewide Coordinator Steve Seitchik. “We know that medications for opioid use disorder reduce morbidity and mortality, transmission of infectious disease and criminal activity, and it also has shown that it improves treatment retention and social functioning. Research has shown that MOUD more than doubles the rates of successful outcomes in randomized, controlled trials comparing psychosocial treatment of opioid use disorder with medication versus no medication.”

A coach will be assigned to each of the seven county-based teams to provide individualized technical assistance and foster a statewide learning collaborative including additional county grantees and state correctional institutions. The seven counties selected for individualized technical assistance are Armstrong, Bucks, Cambria, Franklin, Lawrence, Lehigh and Montgomery.

As members of a learning collaborative, grantees will be invited to participate in an interactive one-day seminar as well as in-person and webinar sessions organized on a monthly basis. Learning collaborative events will provide guidance and resources on topics such as workflow and protocol development, and referral planning/reentry and minimizing diversion.

“This program is so important because it builds the capacity for effective treatment of opioid addiction in the population with the most advanced opioid use disorder,” said national addiction expert and HMA Principal Dr. Corey Waller. “Success means that persons with OUD in the criminal justice system can experience recovery and can pursue productive lives.”

HMA’s MOUD technical assistance approach has been deployed across California and in more than 16 other county jails nationwide. The firm’s physician-led team of addiction medicine experts includes practicing clinicians, program consultants, and policy experts. HMA will also partner with the Michigan Department of Corrections to provide technical assistance, best practice research, training and coaching, and MOUD implementation in state prisons beginning in March – a project also supported by Vital Strategies.

Experts in the field of addiction medicine recognize and promote MOUD as the most effective treatment for those with OUD. MOUD has been shown to significantly reduce criminal behavior and the risk of fatal overdose upon release from jail.

“People who have been incarcerated are up to 100 times more likely than the general public to die from overdose in the weeks following release from incarceration, said Daliah Heller, director of the Overdose Prevention Program at Vital Strategies. “We are proud to partner with HMA, the PA DOC and the PCCD to ensure that life-saving medications like methadone and buprenorphine get to people behind bars who need them.”