When the first Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinics opened throughout Ontario in 2016 – in Sudbury, Owen Sound, Sarnia, St. Catharines, Newmarket, Ottawa, and London - it was the beginning of a new model of care for individuals struggling with substance use. These seven clinics saw nearly 900 patients in their first year of operation, translating into significant savings for the Ontario healthcare system and impacting patients’ lives for the better.
By the time the Women’s College Hospital RAAM clinic opened in 2017, the pilot clinics had already demonstrated that quick and barrier-free access to addiction medicine was indeed possible and that the path to recovery was within reach for those individuals who walked through a RAAM clinic door.
The RAAM model shortened wait times for treatment from weeks or months to hours or days. Throughout 2018, as the extent of the opioid crisis came to light, including the presence of fentanyl in other street substances, the responsive nature of the RAAM model resulted in it becoming a significant component of the province’s strategy to make treatment options more readily available.
As of January 2019, there are now over 55 RAAM clinics across Ontario, with more clinics to come. Throughout the province, there are now more ways than ever for individuals to access much needed treatment and care.
As a result of META:PHI’s growth over the last two years, we have become a hub for administration, communication and education – bringing RAAM practitioners, administrators, and support professionals together to build knowledge, capacity, and provide educational support.
Here are some of the initiatives we embarked on in 2018:
• The annual META:PHI Conference: Share the Experience, Aspire for Improvement from September 21-22, 2018, which brought over 100 practitioners from across Ontario together to share knowledge and expertise
• An outreach campaign to government social services offices, wellness fairs, correctional facilities, and community agencies promoting META:PHI and RAAM clinics across the GTA
• Publication of a community worker resource handbook, including a list of Ontario residential treatment centres and a quick reference guide for symptoms of substance use disorder, to aid community workers in identifying situations where medical help is necessary
• Educational seminars to the Ontario Provincial Police and the Ontario Children’s Aid Societies
• Establishment of monthly, provincial calls and case conferences for RAAM-involved clinicians and administrators
• Academic presentations to the Ontario HIV Network, the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine, the Community Health Advancement Conference, and Health Quality Transformation Day 2018
As we look ahead to 2019, META:PHI is continuing to work on exciting new initiatives. Please check our website regularly - www.metaphi.ca - or this blog to learn more about our ongoing work.
Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy New Year!