UVM Medical Center looks to make addiction treatment more accessible

Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 6:19 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The University of Vermont Medical Center is looking to make addiction treatment more accessible with an integrated approach.

In Burlington alone, police have responded to a record 265 overdoses between January and July. That already surpasses last year’s total, just seven months into the year. The city projects the total number of incidents will hit 500.

So instead of the UVM Medical Center continuing to maintain two different programs, they plan to combine them and add another one. Officials say that will help those in need by providing better access to individual, group and medication treatment.

Cam Lauf, the executive director of Turning Point of Chittenden County, says he sees day-to-day how addiction takes away the lives of its victims.

”It’s bad at the point where there seems to be more use in public areas,” Lauf said. “There are higher rates of fatal overdoses, higher rates of nonfatal overdoses. higher rates of people seeking treatment through the emergency department.”

Lauf says he and his staff have reversed overdoses. He’s looking for harm reduction services, peer recovery services and an emphasis on treatment.

Turning Point works directly with UVMMC which is launching two different programs-- an addiction treatment program and one that focuses on alcohol use disorder. They are integrating the two programs to help provide better care to treat those facing addiction. The center has also expanded referral methods so people can self-refer or be referred by their loved ones.

Dr. Brady Heward of the UVM Health Network says the changes come as the community attempts to manage an uptick in overdoses.

“This is an effort for us to really expand our services and open additional spots to come into treatment. We’re really-- our mission is really to provide the best care for people who need the services,” Heward said.

In addition to this integrated approach, they will also allow walk-ins on Wednesday mornings.