MIAMI COUNTY — In recent years, as the opioid crisis has blossomed throughout the Miami Valley, Health Partners has networked with the Miami County Recovery Council, Miami County Public Health, and various medical facilities in order to serve as a navigator for patients toward proper rehabilitative care.
Established in the late 1990s, Health Partners Free Clinic operates in Miami County with the mission to provide health care for the county’s uninsured and underserved residents, regardless of age, gender, religion or ethnicity. Physicians, nurse practitioners, and a host of other health care professionals volunteer their time and expertise in service to the residents of Miami County.
“Our goal has involved our being kind of a silent partner with organizations throughout the county,” said Health Partners Executive Director Justin Coby. “We don’t ever say we’re a treatment center, but we work very closely alongside local organizations who are fully prepared for that treatment.”
On site at Health Partners, medical volunteers and professional counselors correlate with other local professionals, particularly in medicine and law enforcement, to direct opioid abusers toward resources that might otherwise seem out of reach.
“The worst possible thing in our eyes is seeing someone who is not only addicted, but has also been arrested and now has a record, due to the symptoms of that addiction,” Coby said. “The drug court here in Miami County has done a phenomenal job at making sure people get the help they need versus incarceration. If we can work around patients having a record for the rest of their lives, that’s a positive, and it wouldn’t be possible without the efforts that so many partners in the area have committed to.”
Although Health Partners does not possess the resources to administer certain care, they are capable of running early diagnostics and gathering certain data to get patients started, most notably in tests for a patient’s suitability to take Vivitrol, an “opioid antagonist” that can be used to help people maintain abstinence while recovering from opioid dependence.
“There are many who come to us that are uninsured, but are in need of Vivitrol,” Coby said. “Liver function tests are very important at the outset. The thing about that drug is it can be really heavy on the liver. Once Vivitrol is injected, the liver does most of the work to break it down and clear it out. If the liver is compromised, that’s a big problem for the patient, and the first step then is to get them on the right drug to make sure the liver is functioning properly. That’s just one example of what we do to work alongside other organizations.”
Coby expressed that the coalition of efforts between various organizations to enlighten the public on the issue has had a tremendous impact on both the number of patients seeking treatment and their candor in discussing the problem.
“What we noticed about a year ago is that we were having people coming in to actively talk about the fact that they were in the throes of addiction,” Coby said. “We hadn’t seen that before. People wouldn’t admit to it. Because so much education has been pumped into the community, I think people feel safer. They’re more forthcoming with issues and don’t feel as much of the fear, and I think that directly correlates to the education this county has committed to in talking about addiction.”
Located in a modern facility at 1300 N. County Road 25-A, Health Partners offers care nearly 50 hours per week at no cost to patients. Those with chronic health problems can receive care in a friendly and safe environment with regularity. Now in its 20th year of service, the clinic’s distribution of care is valued at over $1.9 million annually.
For more information about Health Partners Free Clinic, visit www.healthpartnersclinic.org.