Drug Deactivation Pouch Donation to Help Alliance Fight Opioid Epidemic

(Durham, NC)Alliance Behavioral Healthcare entered a unique partnership today with Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals to make 30,000 drug deactivation pouches available across the four-county Alliance region in central North Carolina. These pouches will allow individuals to safely dispose of expired or unneeded medications, especially opioid pain medications and other narcotics, at home to prevent misuse, abuse and addiction. Each of the donated pouches can hold up to 45 pills, which means that if each pouch is used to maximum capacity, it would get rid of 1,350,000 unused, unneeded pills.

Four North Carolina cities are ranked in the top 20 nationally for opioid abuse, including one in the Alliance region. Research demonstrates that only one child in 20 who misuses prescription medications say they get them from a stranger, a drug dealer or the internet. Instead, two thirds of all people who misuse prescription medications get them from friends and family. These statistics underscore the importance of securing medications at home and properly disposing of leftover medications to prevent them from being misused.

These strategies and other simple steps all citizens can take to fight opioid misuse and addiction are featured on a website called Alliance For Action On Opioids (www.AllianceForAction.org). The website also provides information about preventing overdose deaths with naloxone, a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose, and about recognizing the red flags of opioid misuse.

“At Alliance we’re approaching the opioid epidemic from multiple directions,” said Alliance CEO Rob Robinson. “We’ve expanded and improved the services that are available to people with addictions, and we’re addressing the social determinants of health – environmental factors that present barriers to people engaging and remaining in treatment and recovery, including housing, transportation, food security and education. We thank Mallinckrodt for this donation that will allow thousands of people we serve to safely dispose of dangerous medications before they get into the wrong hands.”

Robinson indicated that Alliance’s Care Management Division will oversee a strategic plan to distribute the pouches across Durham, Wake, Cumberland and Johnston counties. This will include routing of pouches to high-risk individuals by Alliance Care Coordinators, efforts by the Alliance Community Relations Department to share pouches as part of its outreach activities, and making donations to partner organizations that are also working to fight drug misuse.

This donation is part of Mallinckrodt’s two-million pouch donation initiative to help address one of the United States’ top public health threats – the abuse of prescription pain medications. The pouches use patented technology to neutralize the active ingredients in opioid painkillers and other organic drugs in pill, liquid and transdermal patch forms. Through proprietary-activated carbon bonds, the pouches help provide a safe and responsible medication disposal method, rendering the drugs ineffective and safe for disposal in any setting, preventing misuse of leftover prescription medication.

“As a company focused on the health and well-being of our patients and communities, Mallinckrodt has long been a strong advocate of addressing the complex issues of opioid misuse and abuse that cause so much harm,“ said Mark Trudeau, Mallinckrodt President and Chief Executive Officer. “We share the concerns of people across the nation, and believe that providing patients with a safe, environmentally responsible way to dispose of unused medications is critical in this fight against prescription drug abuse. Mallinckrodt is committed to working with policy makers, community leaders, law enforcement and industry partners to ensure the responsible use of pain medication and prevent unused medications from ending up in the wrong hands.”

Wake County Representative Chris Malone spoke today about the North Carolina General Assembly’s plan for addressing the various aspects of the opioid epidemic.  “The General Assembly is fighting the opioid epidemic with an intentional multi-prong approach. In the STOP ACT we aimed to decrease the supply of prescribed opioids,” said Representative Malone. “The problem of safe disposal of unused medication is one that has plagued us for a very long time.  There are other programs, like the Take Back Program, and it does a great job but it’s just not widely enough accessible. Many medications cannot simply be disposed of by throwing them in the trash or down the toilet. We are so blessed that right here in House District 35 we have a company like Mallinckrodt that has been generous enough to help fight the opioid epidemic with a product that safely and conveniently disposes extra medications so they do not end up where they may be easy to access and abuse. It will take many initiatives like this to fight this horrible epidemic and we deeply appreciate their support of our local efforts.”

The pouches were developed and manufactured by Minneapolis-based Verde Technologies, which develops research-based, scientifically-proven solutions to reduce opioid abuse and misuse while reducing the environmental impact of the drug disposal process. For more information on the drug disposal pouches, please visit deterrasystem.com.

About Alliance Behavioral Healthcare

Alliance is the managed care organization for publicly funded behavioral healthcare services for the people of Durham, Wake, Cumberland and Johnston counties. Alliance works with a network of almost 2,200 private providers to serve the needs of 471,000 Medicaid-eligible and uninsured individuals within a total population of 1.8 million. For more information, visit alliancebhc.org.

A foundation for recovery: Alliance housing investment paying off

(Durham, NC) – As part of Alliance Behavioral Healthcare’s commitment to “Housing First, Housing Plus,” the principle of supportive housing as a platform for improving quality of life and a foundation for recovery, the organization has been busy forging new partnerships and exploring more opportunities to move people with complex needs from homelessness to housing … and help them stay there.

Those efforts are now showing good returns in terms of retention, improved outcomes and fewer visits to the emergency department by people served. In addition, through an investment of almost $5 million, Alliance has secured current and future access to 69 housing units.

The capital investments with private and non-profit housing developers include $750,000 from Alliance reinvestment funds and $4.2 million from Department of Justice grants. The money has secured 69 housing units with 20-year deed restrictions specifying that they be used by Alliance or its designee.

The inventory includes 28 units in Wake County, some of which are senior housing, and 41 units in Durham. Some of the investments are in new construction developments, the first of which will open at the end of August with occupancy scheduled for September 1.

In addition to Alliance’s investment partnerships, good outcomes are emerging from other partnerships, including a Health and Housing Program with Duke Health Systems and Resources for Human Development (RHD), and Bridge Housing at Harrington Place in partnership with Wake County and RHD.

The Health and Housing program serves people who are chronically homeless referred through two Duke outpatient clinics, with feeder sources in the ED. Through RHD, Alliance connects these people with housing and the supportive services they need to stay in that housing and manage their health conditions.

The initiative began in February 2017 and has housed 13 people who were classified as chronically homeless. Six people have remained in housing for 9-15 months.
One remarkable result of the initiative is that data provided by RHD show a 75 percent reduction in ED visits by people housed through the program. One person who has been housed through the program for nine months had accounted for 11 ED visits before being housed. After her first three months of housing, she has not been back to the ED at all.

“The Health and Housing program really illustrates the intersect between physical health and behavioral health and how important that is,” said Alliance CEO Rob Robinson. “This program has so much potential to be successful because it originates out of the hospital and the Duke outpatient clinics, and the physicians there really understand social determinants and the importance of housing.”

“The thing with housing is that you plant a seed and you really have to cultivate it,” said Ann Oshel, Alliance Senior Vice President, Community Relations. “And it takes time.”

“We spent a year trying to figure out the process of how we would identify the people, get the funding for the supportive housing case management and get the vouchers, and we are really starting to literally and figuratively see it pay off with all the people who are in and maintaining housing and not going to the ED,” Oshel said. “We had a couple of people who had crisis episodes but that’s almost what we want—let us know you before you have an episode so we can get you to the right place and then get you back home.”

Keeping people who are chronically homeless in housing can be a challenge, however, and it’s one reason Oshel now talks of moving people out of homelessness into housing “and beyond.” After finding a sense of community in homelessness or institutional care, many people can find housing, and the responsibilities that go along with it, to be a lonely and difficult experience.

“We focus a lot on moving people out of homelessness and trying to find a roof over their head, and I’m starting to think that’s the easy part,” Oshel said. “Keeping people engaged in services, helping them make friends and figure out how to navigate transportation, all that stuff is hugely difficult, overwhelming and complicated.”

The Bridge Housing program at Harrington Place in Wake County offers people with disabilities just what the name implies: a bridge between homelessness and being housed by providing a room in a group living setting, with many supports, including a case manager and peer support specialist.

“For a lot of people that in-between step is really important just so they can take a baby step to being on their own, learn a little bit more about what it’s going to be like, and get a little bit more used to maintaining even a small room,” Oshel said. “It has built-in supports while you’re there, so there is someone to check on you, someone to help you get connected to benefits, and you get a chance to practice your skills like how to cook and do laundry. For people who are very sick, they get a chance to learn to care for their conditions.”

The Bridge Housing program opened in March and has served 17 people, six of whom have moved on to permanent housing with a voucher. The facility has 12 units, and participants typically stay three to five months in the program. The 17 people who have come through the program represent 1,422 months of homelessness.

“We’re just starting to see what kind of difference it makes to give people a landing spot between homelessness and looking for housing,” Oshel said.

Meanwhile, Oshel and her staff continue to explore possibilities and expand the ways Alliance can move people from homelessness into housing and help them thrive there. “We’ve always got some ideas that we’re looking for the next great partnership on. For the moment, what we are really trying to focus on is what it means to really support someone in housing. How do we know that it has improved their quality of life? I believe that it does, and I believe that for some it’s so scary and overwhelming that it’s easier to go back to they have always known than to give it long enough. From our end we need to make sure that we really recognize what it takes. That’s why I say ‘from homelessness to housing and beyond.’”

Alliance is a public behavioral health managed care organization, or MCO, with responsibility for the authorization of services for almost 440,000 Medicaid-eligible and uninsured individuals and a population of 1.8 million in Durham, Wake, Cumberland and Johnston counties.

August 2018 Alliance InTouch newsletter now available

The August 2018 edition of the Alliance InTouch newsletter for Alliance employees, friends and community members is now available! Stay “in touch” with what is going on at Alliance and the important work we do to deliver the best care to the people we serve.

Read and download the Alliance InTouch newsletter.

Community Needs Assessment Deadline Extended to July 20

Alliance is conducting its annual Community Needs Assessment to evaluate service capacity, needs and gaps in Cumberland, Durham, Johnston and Wake counties. We are seeking input from our community through multiple approaches, including a web-based survey. Information received through this process will inform our service planning and development efforts for the next year and help us better serve adults, children and families in the Alliance region. The deadline for completion has been extended to Friday, July 20. Please help us obtain community feedback by responding to the survey and by distributing this message to others who may have an interest in responding. Click below to access the survey:

English

Spanish

We would also appreciate your help reaching consumers and families who do not have internet access or would prefer to submit a hard copy version of the survey. You may access printable versions below:

English

Spanish

Request for Feedback on Community Needs Assessment

Alliance is conducting its annual Community Needs Assessment to evaluate service capacity, needs and gaps in Cumberland, Durham, Johnston and Wake counties. We are seeking input from our community through multiple approaches, including a web-based survey. Information received through this process will inform our service planning and development efforts for the next year and help us better serve adults, children and families in the Alliance region. Please help us obtain community feedback by responding to the survey by Friday, July 6 and by distributing this message to others who may have an interest in responding. Click below to access the survey:

English

Spanish

We would also appreciate your help reaching consumers and families who do not have internet access or would prefer to submit a hard copy version of the survey. You may access printable versions below:

English

Spanish

Alliance to train Wake County Sheriff’s Detention Staff in Mental Health First Aid

(Durham, NC) – Alliance Behavioral Healthcare will partner with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office to give Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to all 520 of its detention officers and nurses.
Alliance’s eight-hour MHFA course teaches a five-step action plan that guides trainees through the process of reaching out and offering appropriate support to a person in need until professional treatment is secured or the crisis resolves. Just as CPR helps people without clinical training assist someone having a heart attack, MHFA prepares people to interact with a person experiencing a behavioral health crisis.

The partnership with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office is a continuation of Alliance’s commitment to increase the safety of both citizens and first responders by providing either MHFA or Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training. CIT training teaches police and other emergency how to recognize and respond appropriately to individuals in behavioral health crisis so that they may de-escalate dangerous situations and refer individuals, when appropriate, to treatment instead of emergency departments or jail. In 2017, Alliance worked with the Raleigh Police Department to train every employee – officers as well as non-sworn employees – in one of the two trainings.

“As part of our CIT partnerships, which we’ve been doing now for 10 years, our goal has been to get 20 percent of patrol officers in each district and each municipality certified in CIT,” said Ann Oshel, head of Community Relations for Alliance. “We have achieved that goal, including EMS and campus police from our community colleges and universities, bringing a lot of different agencies into the fold of CIT.”

Oshel said that the training is essential in a detention setting, which can be stressful by nature. “If you’re already off your meds, and you’re already pretty agitated and escalated then it’s just prime time to completely go into crisis. And even if you don’t already have a mental illness, just the nature of being in jail and what you’re being charged with can be enough to bring on some symptoms.”

“I can’t thank Alliance Behavioral Healthcare enough for their commitment to help train our detention officers in Mental Health First Aid, said Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison. “ To train our detention officers is something I have wanted to do for a long time.”

The training will take place in July and August and will require three Alliance staff members training detention employees four days a week for four weeks
Alliance is a public behavioral health managed care organization, or MCO, with responsibility for the authorization of services for almost 440,000 Medicaid-eligible and uninsured individuals and a population of 1.8 million in Durham, Wake, Cumberland and Johnston counties.

More information about Alliance Mental Health First Aid can be found at alliancebhc.org/about-alliance/mental-health-first-aid/.

June 2018 Alliance InTouch newsletter now available

The June 2018 edition of the Alliance InTouch newsletter for Alliance employees, friends and community members is now available! Stay “in touch” with what is going on at Alliance and the important work we do to deliver the best care to the people we serve.

Read and download the Alliance InTouch newsletter.

Alliance Behavioral Healthcare Becomes i2i Champion

The following news release was issue by i2i Center for Integrative Health.

i2i Center for Integrative Health is pleased to announce that Alliance Behavioral Healthcare has become one of its high level Champion Supporters. The i2i Center is a convener organization for healthcare leaders to work together to solve the most important issues affecting behavioral, intellectual and developmental disabilities and primary healthcare and support service systems within a comprehensive system of whole person care in North Carolina.

i2i Executive Director Mary Hooper said, “I am so pleased to add Alliance to the growing roster of i2i Champion Supporters. The organization’s commitment to its communities is clear in its services and programs that emphasize integrated care, social determinants of health, and community inclusion for consumers. Rob Robinson and his entire staff have much to be proud of. Alliance’s support and expertise is a great addition for i2i in its collaborative work, and we are honored to recognize them among our Champions.”

Alliance recently introduced its Complete Care model built on the principles of population health, or working to improve the health of entire groups of people. The model’s priority in achieving the aim of population health is reducing health inequities or disparities among different population groups due to, among other things, the social determinants of health. This is being borne-out in numerous initiatives including Alliance’s rapidly expanding housing program and its innovative work to combat the epidemic of opioid misuse.

“The mission of i2i is in close alignment with Alliance’s vision to be a leader in transforming the delivery of whole person care in North Carolina’s public sector,” Robinson said. “We welcome the opportunity to come to the table to help ensure that the unique expertise and experience of the LME/MCOs continues to be a strong and viable component of our state’s Medicaid transformation.”

Initial i2i Center policy initiatives and collaborative efforts are evolving around improving value based payment structures, service system navigation for individuals with I-DD and their families, system transformation, housing and housing supports for individuals transitioning to community living, and training in business practices that are consistent with the expanding managed care environment.

About i2i Center for Integrative Health
The January, 2018 establishment of the i2i Center for Integrative Health represents the evolution of the NC Council of Community Programs’ 34 year legacy of collaboration and advocacy. The mission of the i2i Center is to serve as an independent convener that fosters collaborative and evidence-based initiatives for improving the quality and efficacy of the behavioral health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and substance use care and support services systems within a comprehensive system of whole person care.

About Alliance Behavioral Healthcare
Alliance is a public behavioral health managed care organization, or MCO, with responsibility for the authorization of services for almost 440,000 Medicaid-eligible and uninsured individuals and a population of 1.8 million in Durham, Wake, Cumberland and Johnston counties.

Alliance Grants Target Social Determinants of Health

Through special one-time grants, Alliance Behavioral Healthcare has been able support organizations that address the social determinants of health, which are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live and age and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. Studies have shown that while clinical care interventions are essential, a broad range of social, economic, and environmental factors shape individuals’ opportunities and barriers to receiving care and engaging in healthy behaviors.

One grant recipient, the Lighthouse Foundation of Wake County (LFWC), serves low-income, adult residents who are navigating a significant chronic or mental health crisis. LFWC’s mission is to promote the overall wellness of underserved people by assisting with such things as housing, basic daily needs, transportation, healthcare appointments and the like.

Recipients of LFWC’s assistance include Garfield, a 59-year-old man living with Stage 3 colon cancer. Despite his fragile health condition, Garfield continues to work a full time job to make ends meet. However, his primary medical diagnosis was not the issue that brought him to the Lighthouse Foundation of Wake County.

“I needed glasses real bad and could not see real good,” Garfield said. ”This stopped me from driving and getting to work or my appointments. I don’t make much and can’t afford glasses. Lighthouse helped me get an exam and new glasses right away so now I can see and drive again. They were very quick in helping me get an appointment and I am happy my social worker reached out to them for me”.

Another person served by LFWC is Ella, 42, who suffers from brittle diabetes and hypertension. The conditions have created hardships that have had major implications in her daily life and overall wellness. Like Garfield, Ella has received temporary relief and compassionate support from LFWC as she works toward medical stability.

“The Lighthouse Foundation has helped me immensely by covering my doctor appointments at the Open Door Clinic while I am out of work,” Ella said. “I am actively looking for a job, but my diabetes has been out of control and requires me to go back for frequent follow-up appointments to avoid going to the ER. Covering my co-pays helps me see my doctor and get my diabetes back on track.”

The Alliance grant funds support LFWC’s Closing the Gap for the Underserved and Food & Fuel Assistance programs. The Closing the Gap program helps cover co-pays for doctor visits and necessary prescription medications and/or medical supplies for chronically and mentally ill clients. The Food & Fuel Assistance provides LFCW clients with additional food supplements and fuel for transportation to and from medical appointments.

“I am both touched and grateful of this wonderful designation of funds to help out our Food & Fuel and Closing the Gap programs,” said Lighthouse Executive Director Regina Heroux. “It is a pleasure to work with outstanding agencies like Alliance Behavioral Healthcare, who are so committed to the care of those who are sick and less fortunate. Our work is a reflection of great partnerships (which we value and appreciate) that collectively makes an impact in our community.”

“In reflection of the Alliance Complete Care model, Community Relations is thrilled to have an opportunity to support the wonderful work of partners throughout our catchment area that embrace the Social Determinants of Health,” said James Osborn, Alliance’s Director of Community Outreach and Engagement. “The Lighthouse Foundation of Wake County, along with all SDOH funding recipients, inspire us by addressing issues of food security, housing, transportation, and healthcare funding assistance that directly impact and benefit a person’s overall health and wellness.”

Alliance Celebrates 100th Transitions to Community Living Initiative Move of FY18

(Durham, NC) –Alliance Behavioral Healthcare’s Transitions to Community Living Initiative (TCLI) recently completed its 100th move of FY2018. This milestone significantly exceeds the state annual performance target for Alliance of 88 individuals transitioned into supportive housing as required by the 2012 Olmstead Settlement Agreement between the United States and North Carolina.

The Olmstead agreement mandates that the state provide community-based supported housing to people who currently reside in, or are at risk of entry into, adult care homes. It also ensures that thousands of people with mental illness have access to critical community-based mental health services and expands their employment opportunities by providing supported employment services.

Alliance is the agency charged with implementing the settlement agreement provisions in Durham, Wake, Johnston, and Cumberland counties. Over the past year Alliance has strengthened its efforts to exceed program goals by adding new employees specifically for the program and securing additional housing inventory to meet demand.

“We are focused on getting as many people into housing as we possibly can,” said Alliance Olmstead Settlement Project manager Larry Swabe. “Our mission in doing this is to make sure that individuals with severe and persistent mental illness have the same opportunities to live a life just like you and I do”

For the people served by TCLI the transition from restrictive institutional settings, where life is regulated and residents do very little for themselves, can be transforming. “This program opens a whole new life to these folks – one many of them never dreamed was possible.” said TJ Hayes, an Alliance transition supervisor.

“Going through the process makes me feel a sense of accomplishment. I am proud of myself and there’s still so much more I want do in my life,” said Rakshanda (who asked to be identified by first name only), a community member who transitioned into her own apartment in 2016. “Having this apartment is a major stepping stone.”

Alliance’s TCLI efforts are aligned with the organization’s commitment to housing as a healthcare strategy. “We believe that housing is a platform that improves an individual’s quality of life, allows them to pursue their own goals and dreams, and serves as a foundation for their recovery,” said Ann Oshel, senior vice president of community relations at Alliance.

“On multiple levels, this is the right thing to do for these individuals,” said Alliance CEO Rob Robinson. “We shouldn’t underestimate the value this initiative provides to help us meet our goals as a managed care organization – to tangibly improve the quality of life of the people we serve, and in the process to make more efficient use of the public funds we are entrusted with.”

Alliance is the managed care organization for publicly funded behavioral healthcare services for the people of Durham, Wake, Cumberland and Johnston counties. Alliance works with a network of almost 2,200 private providers to serve the needs of 471,000 Medicaid-eligible and uninsured individuals within a total population of 1.8 million.