Daily Planet Health Services Uses Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT) to Prevent Opioid Overdoses

Daily Planet’s team discusses the proper administration of Narcan, which is distributed to each program participantDaily Planet Heath Services HRSA BPHC exit disclaimer in Richmond, VA, is a HRSA-funded health center and a National Committee for Quality Assurance-recognized patient-centered medical home serving anyone regardless of their ability to pay. After observing a rise in opioid-related deaths and high demand for its existing MAT program, Daily Planet expanded its Substance Use Disorder (SUD) program.

Their MAT program started in August 2017 with the aim to address the underlying causes of individual substance use through weekly psychotherapy (often group) and MAT therapy. Daily Planet used the Expanding Access to Quality Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services (SUD-MH) supplemental funding from HRSA to expand the program. They started a pilot for a shared medical appointment SUD treatment group and created weekly psychotherapy groups to keep clients coming in regularly. The MAT program is more than medication; behavioral health therapy is a cornerstone of treatment.

They also hired three full-time clinical therapists, a full-time certified peer recovery specialist, and a psychiatrist for 12 hours per week. Services focus on those who are homeless or unstably housed, those who have recently been released from prison, and people who have not received treatment in the past. Patients can remain in the program as long as they wish. Clients attend group therapy on the days they meet with their prescriber. Group sessions last 1 hour and include no more than 10 clients and 2 facilitators. Group therapy is primarily focused on why people were misusing drugs in the first place. Groups are process-oriented and have psychoeducational components.

As of January 2019, the program has 103 active patients, and over half of the patients who started the program remain in it to date. All patients currently in the program are on MAT. Ten clients have used naloxone to revive others who have overdosed on opioids.

How to Implement

Daily Planet Health Services took the following steps to implement this program:

  • Utilized HRSA Expanding Access to Quality Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services (SUD-MH) funding to expand their program.
  • Hired a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (currently in training) to support peers in recovery.
  • Created and maintain working relationships between medical, psychiatric, and behavioral health providers.
  • Partnered with housing organizations, shelters, prison re-entry programs, and SUD/recovery-focused organizations to actively identify people who could benefit from the MAT program.
  • Created weekly psychotherapy groups to keep clients coming in regularly. Daily Planet said there’s no magic formula to start the group. Start with at least three clients. Group participation is part of treatment, and people cannot keep receiving a prescription for their medication unless they engage in treatment.
  • During group sessions, they trained clients on the use of naloxone, so they can revive others in the community.
  • They selected staff who were knowledgeable in treating SUD and built the clinic based on staff experiences and their knowledge of the clients’ and community’s needs.
  • They bill Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial insurance. They also provide services based on a sliding scale for people who lack insurance.
Date Last Reviewed:  April 2019

More Information

Health center's Uniform Data System (UDS) data

For more information about this promising practice, contact:
Paul Brasler, Behavioral Health Coordinator, 804-783-2505, ext. 236