BMC opens new opioid urgent care center to treat patients with substance use disorders

Boston Medical Center (BMC), in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), has launched a new opioid urgent care center to give patients with substance use disorders rapid access to a full continuum of treatment services.

This new model of treatment for substance use disorders is funded by a four-year, $2.9 million grant from DPH to expand access to medical and mental health treatment for patients with substance use disorders, including opioid use disorder. Building on BMC's expertise in addiction treatment and in collaboration with BPHC and DPH's Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, the Faster Paths to Treatment Opioid Urgent Care Center rapidly links patients to an enhanced and integrated system of addiction health care delivery through inpatient and outpatient treatment services, detoxification, and follow-up care.

"We have learned from experience that one of the biggest barriers to effectiveness in treatment for substance use disorder is timeliness," said Edward Bernstein, MD, an emergency medicine physician at BMC who will serve as the program director for Faster Paths. "This grant will help us create a more comprehensive system of care that will allow a greater number of patients to access the services they need, when and where they need it and to further BMC's commitment to provide exceptional care without exception."

Faster Paths patients receive intake triage, comprehensive assessments and referrals to addiction treatment and primary care, opioid overdose education, naloxone rescue kits and follow up which is facilitated by licensed alcohol and drug counselors, as well as the transportation and community based support services from the recovery specialists with BPHC PAATHS.

In addition, Faster Paths has its own dedicated medication treatment outpatient program, staffed by an addiction nurse, physician and a master's level addiction counselor who provides appropriate patients with buprenorphine/suboxone induction and stabilization as well as vivitrol treatment. After these patients are stabilized, they are enrolled in maintenance programs at their local community health centers or at BMC.

Faster Paths, which is housed in BMC's Yawkey Ambulatory Care Center, integrates and enhances BMC's existing addiction services, including Project ASSERT (Alcohol & Substance Abuse Services, Education, and Referral to Treatment); Office Based Addiction Treatment (OBAT) programs; the inpatient addiction consult service; and BPHC's PAATHS (Providing Access to Addictions Treatment, Hope and Support) program.

"We know that timely access to treatment is crucial to saving lives, that's why the Baker Administration has made expanding access to treatment such a high priority. As we address the stark reality of losing four Massachusetts residents per day to the opioid epidemic, we must support evidence-based, innovative approaches like this to reverse this deadly trend," said Dr. Monica Bharel, the state's public health commissioner, who recently toured BMC and met with the Faster Paths team.

"We're thrilled to continue building on our strong partnership with BMC and DPH to further streamline the way we bring services to one of our most vulnerable populations," said BPHC Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH. "We have so many crucial services to offer in this Recovery Road neighborhood and the continuum of care helps us ensure that no life falls between the cracks, and that each person gets the care he or she needs even as those needs evolve."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28,647 overdose deaths in the U.S. involved some type of opioid, including heroin. In 2015, 1,379 people died of an overdose in Massachusetts. Boston EMS transported 2,601 patients with narcotic issues to area hospitals - and nearly 37 percent of those patients came to BMC.


Boston University Medical Center


  1. Stephanie N Marcus Stephanie N Marcus United States says:

    This is a good step in the right direction. Harm reduction is what is needed. Policy must be made to stop the drug war with objective of shutting down the black market. The drug war has failed. The drug war is driving the problems, not fixing them. Decriminalization/legalization is necessary, it needs to be backed up with public health announcements explaining exactly why it is needed. Its not in any way condoning the abuse of addictors, it is done bc the alternative, the drug war, has made things infinitely worse on almost every level, to include making drugs abundantly available to any & all that wants them.
    We need to pull LE out of the drug biz - that will free up a lot of resources currently chasing their collective tails. When the laws create more harm and cause more damage than they prevent, its time to change the laws. The $1 TRILLION so-called war on drugs is a massive big government failure - on nearly every single level. Its way past time to put the cartels & black market drug dealers out of business. Mass incarceration has failed. We cant even keep drugs out of a contained & controlled environment like prison.
    We need the science of addiction causation to guide prevention, treatment, recovery & public policies. Otherwise, things will inexorably just continue to worsen & no progress will be made. Addiction causation research has continued to show that some people (suffering with addiction) have a "hypo-active endogenous opioid/reward system." This is the (real) brain disease, making addiction a symptom, not a disease itself. One disease, one pathology. Policy must be made reflecting addiction(s) as a health issue.
    The war on drugs is an apotheosis of the largest & longest war failure in history. It actually exposes our children to more harm & risk and does not protect them whatsoever. In all actuality, the war on drugs is nothing more than an international projection of a domestic psychosis. It is not the "great child protection act," its actually the complete opposite.
    The lesson is clear: Drug laws do not stop people from harming themselves, but they do cause addicts to commit crimes and harm others. We need a new approach that decriminalizes the disease. We must protect society from the collateral damage of addiction and stop waging war on ourselves. We need common sense harm reduction approaches desperately. MAT (medication assisted treatment) and HAT (heroin assisted treatment) must be available options. Of course, MJ should not be a sched drug at all.
    Every human being is precious, worthy of love and belonging, and deserves opportunities to fulfill his or her potential regardless of past trauma, mental and emotional anguish, addictive behaviors or mistakes made.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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