Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Oct. 21, 2020

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Rapid Response Clinic provides addiction treatment

Program at Vancouver VA campus aims to connect clients, aid

By , Columbian staff writer
6 Photos
Ronda J. Harrison, care navigator at the Veterans Affairs Rapid Response Clinic in Vancouver, checks a patient’s chart.
Ronda J. Harrison, care navigator at the Veterans Affairs Rapid Response Clinic in Vancouver, checks a patient’s chart. Nathan Howard/The Columbian Photo Gallery

Medication-assisted treatment for addiction in Clark County received a boost this year, and expanded help could be on the way.

The Rapid Response Clinic, which opened in the summer at the Vancouver Veterans Affairs campus, has an 8:30 a.m. to noon window on Mondays where it provides MAT response, or medication-assisted treatment, for community members dealing with substance and alcohol use. It offers Suboxone, Subetex and Vivitrol treatments in addition to helping connect people with counseling options if they wish.

The Rapid Response Clinic’s approach is part of the growing trend of using harm reduction treatments to help people with addictions. Instead of withholding or delaying medication that could help people reduce the harm they cause to themselves, the Rapid Response Clinic — which is a Lifeline Connections program — specializes in stabilizing people as soon as possible.

The medication works by reducing cravings and repairing the brain. Once someone is stabilized, they can decide if they need or want therapy.

“When someone wants to change, that window of change can be pretty short,” said Lifeline CEO Jared Sanford. “If someone wants to change and get help, we want to be there. We want to help them get access to care immediately, as soon as we possibly can.”

If You Need Help

The Rapid Response Clinic is located at the Vancouver Veterans Affairs campus, 1601 E. Fourth Plain Blvd., Vancouver, Building 17, Module A. Call 360-397-8246 with questions.

The clinic started seeing seven individuals for treatment when it opened in the summer, and now is helping close to 90 people, explained Kaylee Collins, director of the Medication-Assisted Treatment Program for Lifeline. Although housed on the VA campus, patients do not need to be military veterans.

Collins said treatment generally starts with seeing a person on a weekly basis for the first month, then it shifts to biweekly before becoming monthly — the plans vary after the first month, depending on each patient’s progress. The clinic has protocols in place to make sure participants aren’t gaming the clinic.

Collins and Sanford consider the approach forward-thinking. In addiction treatment, many times in the past, medication would only come after counseling or wouldn’t come at all. Collins said Rapid Response “puts the responsibility of their recovery into their hands,” when speaking of participants.

“I’m a nurse, so I’m always a patient advocate,” Collins added. “I’ve always known medications to go along with the disease or the disorder or syndrome or whatever the case may be. We kind of flipped it on its head, which I love about Rapid Response.”

Nationwide, nearly 48,000 people overdosed from opioid use last year. In Clark County 39 people died as a result of opioid overdose, and 732 deaths occurred statewide. Collins said the clinic will most likely open five days a week in the future, with shorter hours each day. Collins and Sanford consider the clinic’s approach to be very personalized.

“The new way is saying let’s meet everyone where they are at,” Sanford said. “Some individuals might not be ready to quit using entirely. Other individuals might not be ready to quit using all substances. For those individuals we still want to engage them, we still want to help them reduce the harm they are doing to themselves and others.”