Mile Square Health Center to treat opioid addiction

The University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System Mile Square Health Center has received a $325,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to hire specialists in addiction for its main location at 1220 S. Wood Street.

Mile Square will add a full-time, licensed substance-abuse counselor as well as a nurse coordinator. The grant will also partially support a psychiatrist for substance abuse patients.

Treatment will include counseling, support groups and medication therapy. Social-work students from UIC’s Jane Adams College of Social Work will help link patients to care outside the clinic and provide counseling.

Medications like Suboxone, which helps opioid addicts manage withdrawal and control their addiction, are “front-and-center of the treatment plan,” says Dr. Kameron Matthews, chief medical officer at Mile Square.

Mile Square - Wood Street exterior

Mile Square Health Center main location at 1220 South Wood Street.

More physicians are getting certified to prescribe drugs like Suboxone to address the huge population of opioid-addicted Americans, Matthews said.

“Suboxone and drugs like it can really help people with addiction get a grip on their substance abuse, so that supportive therapies like counseling can have a better chance of keeping that person functional and an active member of society,” he said.

Substance-abuse specialists will help Mile Square provide treatment for a growing number of patients identified who could benefit. The center plans to increase screening for substance abuse during primary care visits. The new substance-abuse services are expected to launch at Mile Square’s main location this summer.

The HHS funding comes amid a longterm surge in painkiller addiction and heroin use.

Opioid addiction is now a leading cause of death in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin and prescription painkillers like oxycodone killed more than 28,000 people in 2014. Almost two million Americans abused or were dependent on those drugs that year, with triple the rate of overdoses as in 2000.

Mile Square Health Center is made up of 13 federally-qualified health centers with primary and specialty care clinics in the Near West Side, South Shore, Back of the Yards, Englewood and Cicero areas; four school-based health centers associated with the UIC School of Public Health; and three behavioral health-focused clinics managed by the UIC College of Nursing.

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