Sununu

LACONIA — Nine regional hubs, including one in Laconia, would be set up in New Hampshire to give people greater access to drug treatment and recovery, under plans the state has submitted for federal approval.

A total of $45.8 million in federal grants are available to the state over two years to fight the opioid crisis.

In its grant proposal, the state describes a system providing around-the-clock statewide access and referral for opioid use disorder services.

“The location of these hubs will be situated to ensure that no one in New Hampshire has to travel more than 60 minutes to begin the process toward recovery,” the grant proposal stated. “The hub will receive referrals from a new crisis call center structure and through existing referring networks, along with allowing consumers and providers to directly contact the hub for services.

“The hub will be responsible for providing screening, evaluation, closed loop referrals and care coordination for the client throughout their experience along the continuum of care.”

In addition to Laconia, hubs would be placed in Berlin, Concord, Dover, Hanover, Keene, Littleton, Manchester and Nashua.

Treatment and recovery efforts would include:

Ensuring access to residential care, transitional living, treatment programs, peer recovery support, recovery housing and employment opportunities.

One-stop shopping for information and access to help.

Increasing prescribers for medically assisted treatment.

Gov. Chris Sununu said this system will make it easier for people to get the help they need. 

"This is a one-time opportunity to really get it right, and really set the state up with an infrastructure, to be results-driven, to be data-focused and in many ways enhance the providers that are doing some great work out there, and really ensure that all 1.3 million people in this state have true access to care," he said in an Associated Press report.

New Hampshire had 395 opioid-related deaths last year, 2,774 emergency naloxone administrations and 6,684 emergency room visits related to opioids. Naloxone can reverse the effects of opioid overdose.

The state proposal aims to decrease overdose deaths by 10 to 15 percent by August 2020.

The plan is expected to be approved by the end of September, with the first regional hubs open by Jan. 1.

Jake Berry, vice president of policy for New Futures, a health advocacy and wellness organization, welcomed the proposal.

“We were really encouraged the governor and the Department of Health and Human Services are looking at a regional approach,” he said. “There are many areas of the state, including Laconia, that have been hit really hard.

“They need all the resources they can get. Directing resources toward underserved areas is a great step forward.”

Michele Merritt, president of New Futures, supported the plan’s priorities.

“We are encouraged that the state’s plan takes a holistic, person-centric approach to treatment and recovery,” she said in a statement. “It supports a more fully integrated system of care, including recovery housing and job and economic opportunities, and it directs further resources toward certain populations in need, including pregnant women, children and families in rural areas, and individuals in the criminal justice system, among others.”

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