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Twin Counties get $150,000 to train doctors to provide addiction recovery drug

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    OxyContin, in 80 mg pills, in a 2013 file image. The Twin Counties received a collective $150,000 in state funding to help battle the opioid epidemic.
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    Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden (right). Greene County received $75,000 in state funding to help battle the opioid epidemic.
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    Columbia County Department of Health Public Health Educator Victoria McGahan speaking at the Claverack Free Library. Columbia County received $75,000 in state funding to help battle the opioid epidemic.
October 11, 2018 10:02 pm Updated: October 12, 2018 12:20 pm


HUDSON — Columbia County will use $75,000 in state funding in a joint effort with Greene County to train physicians and nurse practitioners in the use of buprenorphine, a prescription drug used to treat addiction to narcotic pain relievers.

The Columbia County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Wednesday at its monthly meeting to accept $75,000, split in half over two years, from state Department of Health to provide more services to people addicted to opiates when they are admitted into the hospital.

The main focus of the Twin Counties is helping physicians and nurses to be trained to provide buprenorphine to patients who are addicted to opiates.

“This dovetails off of the joint work we have been doing in the opioid task force,” said Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden. “But the efforts will be county-specific, so each county will train its own doctors and nurses. We both operate under the same guidelines.”

Greene County also received $75,000 for these efforts and the county legislature voted Sept. 17 to accept the funding.

The training involves four hours of in-person training and four hours of online training, Groden said.

The two counties will also use the money to train people who have recovered from addiction to be on call to help connect people who come into the hospital due to an overdose with recovery services.

The trainees will be employed by private, nonprofit recovery services organization Twin County Recovery Services Inc., Greener Pathways Program, said Columbia County Public Health Educator Victoria McGahan. They will be known as recovery coaches.

“Greener Pathways already has coaches,” McGahan said. “We hope to double that workforce between the two counties, or come very close to it.”

Columbia County is tailoring its training similar to training provided to potential recovery coaches in Connecticut, McGahan said. In Connecticut, coaches are on call and are notified when a person is admitted to the hospital and addicted to opiates, often for an overdose, and go to the hospital as soon as possible to help the person.

“These coaches are peers who have been there and been through recovery before,” McGahan said. “They will educate people on what recovery services are available to them. They will guide them to recovery.”

The training will be conducted by Our Wellness Collective in Valatie, on a scholarship process to help find the best candidates to fill the role of recovery coaches.

“The training is quite extensive and requires a lot of hours,” McGahan said. “We want to make sure who we choose will be committed. A lot of the people who are the perfect candidates for this face a lot of barriers.”

The training can take five full days, not including supervisory and ethics training.

With the recent acceptance of state funding and with state approval of the counties’ plans, Greene and Columbia are ready to move forward with their plans.

“We have to develop the scholarship form, but we will roll it out shortly,” McGahan said. “If people want to apply they should call the [county] department of health.”