Cascade expand's addiction treatment into East Lewis County

Apr. 3—While its surroundings offer pristine mountain views, Packwood's remote location also presents a barrier to accessing addiction treatment.

To bring more services to East Lewis County, Cascade Community Healthcare expanded addiction treatment services into underserved areas after recently receiving a nearly million-dollar federal grant.

"There's a need everywhere. It's just about getting the word out and letting them know that we're here," said Erika Marshall, Cascade's substance use disorder (SUD) and supportive employment program manager.

The funds helped expand Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) access points into Morton and Packwood four days a week and helped fund services offered in the Lewis County Jail. The MAT clinics in Morton and Packwood operate through a partnership with Arbor Health.

"Arbor Health is really happy to partner with Cascade to bring this service to the community," Char Hancock, an office manager with Arbor Health, said Tuesday.

MAT reduces a patient's craving for a substance and withdrawal symptoms through medication while they receive substance use disorder (SUD) behavioral therapy services, which can create a holistic approach.

"The goal is not to have them dependent on us, but to build a life where they can have their independence back," Marshall said.

Opened in February, Marshall said the facility can support 15 to 20 people a day through MAT services and an additional four to six people through SUD.

"It's been exciting," Marshall said. "We've really been embraced."

The expansion into East Lewis County is funded through a $930,000 grant Cascade received from the Department of Health and Human Services Rural Communities Opioid Response program's medication assisted treatment.

In the award funding, Grays Harbor County Public Hospital District 1 received funding through the Overdose Response Program while Whidbey Island Public Hospital District received $991,000.

When announcing the grant funds, Sen. Maria Cantwell said throughout at "every stop on my statewide fentanyl listening tour, I've heard that we must make it easier for people to find treatment if we're going to end this crisis."

"That means giving rural hospitals the resources to offer the most effective substance use treatments," Cantwell said. "These grants will help people suffering from addiction in Grays Harbor County, Island County, and Lewis County get access to care."

While the grant will help fight fentanyl use, it also helps treat an array of other substance abuse issues. According to Marshall, the clinic has provided an equal amount of opioid and alcohol treatment.

"It's actually working on the same receptor sites. The process is just a little different," said Ezra Foss, a nurse practitioner at the clinic.

According to Foss, in addition to treatment, the clinic also helps to repair relationships strained by addiction.

"You can totally see the difference, too," Foss said. "You can just see it. People start to trust them in their lives, they're able to hold down a job. The difference is very apparent."

In addition to their new facilities in Morton and Packwood, and the existing service in the Lewis County Jail, Cascade offers MAT services from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday at 135 W. Main St., Chehalis.