KAWARTHA LAKES-Stigma, rapid access, transportation from rural areas – these are some of the barriers to accessing treatment for individuals in the City of Kawartha Lakes region who are addicted to alcohol or opioids, according to the Mental Health team at Ross Memorial Hospital.
To help address these barriers, Ross Memorial Hospital (RMH) started operating its Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) Clinic in May 2021. The RAAM Clinic provides immediate access to lifesaving treatment by offering same-day counselling, addiction medication, and prescription therapies for people who are addicted to alcohol or opioids.
The clinic is staffed by RMH nurses and Peterborough Regional Health Centre physicians, who work in partnership with Fourcast, to ensure clients are supported through the continuum of their care.
“Addiction is still one of those things people like to hide. This program allows a venue to say ‘I need help’ and break down some of those barriers of access if you want care, if you want change, if you want to do something different,” says Marsha Coombs, Manager for Rehab and Mental Health and the RAAM Clinic lead at RMH. “Quick access to resources and seamless care will be beneficial to our community.”
Physicians from PRHC meet with clients virtually through the Ontario Telemedicine Network, and can prescribe treatment and medications that the RMH RAAM Clinic team can help pick up that same day for clients. Individuals can self-refer for booked appointments, or physicians, nurses, social workers, addiction counsellors and community providers are welcome to refer a client.
“My primary role is withdrawal management and often when we do an assessment, our recommendations involve a referral to medical support. So for a lot of people, that can be a dead-end for them,” says Victoria Meaney, an addictions counsellor with Fourcast who is part of the RMH RAAM Clinic team. “Usually, if they have withdrawal risks we can’t support them in making changes without a doctor giving medical clearance or the medication to help. So the RAAM Clinic allows us to provide more seamless and continuous care.”
Officials hope the RAAM Clinic will be a valuable resource in helping to prevent opiate overdoses and reduce emergency department visits and hospital stays for people with addictions.
“The benefits for the client are that hopefully they can manage their addiction, carry on with life and be successful, because it can be a horrible place to be,” added Sheila Carron, a Registered Nurse at RMH and RAAM Clinic team member. “We try to offer every bit of assistance we can.”
Ross Memorial Hospital’s RAAM Clinic is operated out of the hospital’s Mental Health Outpatient program on the second floor (orange elevators). It is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30-5:00 p.m. The RAAM Clinic can be reached directly at (705)328-6064.