Connecticut Health Centers Receive Federal Funds to Expand Substance Abuse Treatment

Seven health centers in Connecticut are receiving federal funding of at least $325,000 to help the fight against prescription opioid and heroin abuse, Sylvia M. Burwell, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, announced on Friday.

“Opioid overdose, heroin overdose, is a big issue for our state,” Dr. Ece Tek, an addiction psychiatrist, said.

Tek and physician Doug Bruce treat substance abuse and addiction patients from disadvantaged neighborhoods at New Haven’s Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center, which is receiving $406,250.

“It allows us to take another step toward expanding our compendium of services,” Michael Taylor, CEO of Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center, said.

The doctors said the federal funds will help them better merge primary care treatment with substance abuse services.

“We want to be a one-stop shop (for) people with substance abuse disorders,” Dr. Bruce said. “They have multiple problems. People use drugs for a reason, so we know that the more hoops you make someone jump through, the fewer hoops they can do.”

Dr. Bruce said he has seen an increase in children, as young as in middle school, starting to abuse prescription painkillers.

“As a result of the availability of prescription opioids, that also then creates dependence issues and then it becomes a gateway drug for people to move to heroin,” he said.

A new public service announcement the Governor’s Prevention Partnership released on Friday features a family with a son who has faced prescription pill addiction.

“Keep your medication locked up, because you’ll never notice that a pill is gone,” the mother says in the PSA.

Gov. Dannel Malloy is applauding the announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services.

“This funding will no doubt provide help to those who need it. We must tackle prescription opioid and heroin use – this is a growing problem nationwide that Connecticut is working hard to combat,” Malloy said. “I applaud HHS and Secretary Burwell for investing in our community health centers so they can expand and build upon the critical services they provide our residents.”

Here’s a list of the Connecticut health centers receiving some of the $94 million in federal funding.

  • Bridgeport: Optimus Health Care, Inc.: $325,000
  • East Hartford: First Choice Health Centers, Inc.: $406,250
  • Hartford: Community Health Services, Inc.: $325,000
  • Middletown: Community Health Center, Inc.: $379,167
  • New Haven: Cornell Scott-Hill Health Corp.: $406,250
  • New Haven: Fair Haven Community Health Clinic, Inc.: $352,083
  • Waterbury: Staywell Health Care, Inc.: $325,000
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