Every island has challenges with health care, and that includes treatment of addiction. On Hawaii Island, one community health center has been using an approach that is drawing attention from elsewhere.
Dr. Diane Logan is a psychologist with West Hawaii Community Health Center, a federally qualified health care provider with patients from all walks of life. The center received a federal grant to focus on effective treatment for substance abuse in a rural setting. Logan says the key to this approach is integrating addiction treatment into primary care.
"The gold standard by the National Institute of Drug Abuse says, here's what we should do to have the best outcomes. So we were able to create that, and that included medication access from our primary care docs, behavioral health support, integrated, so it's not a side note," Logan said.
"These things are happening all at one visit. It included case management services. Having pharmacist assistance was huge."
Logan says several hundred patients have been through the program over the past three years. Today, they have 70 patients, from teens to kupuna. A quarter of them are Native Hawaiian. Most have gotten off drugs and alcohol.
"That's not always the only measure of success," she said. "We saw a significant decrease in depression and anxiety. The longer we keep people in treatment, the more improvement they had in their mental health symptoms."
Logan says West Hawaii Community Health Center is helping other clinics in the state develop the model.