PROVIDENCE, RI - In the last 8 years, more than 1,800
Rhode Islanders have died as the result of an overdose, one of the highest
overdose rates in America. CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo and Governor Gina M.
Raimondo today announced a partnership to open an Opioid Center of Excellence
in Woonsocket to expand access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) in
northern Rhode Island. CVS Health, which is headquartered in Woonsocket, is
making a $250,000 contribution to the Community Care Alliance (CCA) to open and
operate the Center. CCA was recently certified by the Rhode Island Department
of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals to operate a
Center of Excellence, and CVS Health's contribution will allow for the launch
of this critical service.
"The overdose epidemic is the single greatest public
health crisis of our time. I am so thankful to CVS Health for stepping up to
the plate to support Rhode Island's efforts to expand access to treatment and
recovery," Governor Raimondo said. "This crisis has touched every
community in our state. Because of CVS Health's commitment, we're going to be
in a position to save lives in northern Rhode Island."
"The solution to this complex problem will require a
multi-pronged effort, involving a broad group of stakeholders in health care
and beyond. At CVS Health, we have been proactively working with our
communities to address this epidemic in a comprehensive way. Today, we're proud
to partner with Governor Raimondo to establish a new Opioid Center of
Excellence focused on medication-assisted treatment and outpatient services
here in Woonsocket," said Larry Merlo, President and CEO of CVS Health.
"As an organization that serves to empower individuals
in our community, we are grateful to CVS Health for their generous donation
that will allow us to directly help those most affected by the opioid epidemic
in our state. Thanks to Governor Raimondo's leadership, members of our
community are coming together to fight this crisis," said Benedict
Lessing, CEO of Community Care Alliance.
As part of a comprehensive, nationally-recognized action
plan, Rhode Island established a Center of Excellence model to provide
outpatient treatment for Rhode Islanders suffering from substance use disorder.
Centers of Excellence are certified by the State and offer MAT and additional
Governor Raimondo made the announcement immediately prior to
joining fellow governors, including Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, for a
panel discussion on the overdose crisis as a part of the National Governor's
Association's Summer Meeting being held this week in Rhode Island. The NGA has
recognized Rhode Island's leadership in the fight against the overdose crisis
and has heralded the state's Overdose Treatment and Prevention Action Plan as a
model for other states.
Under Governor Raimondo's leadership, Rhode Island has
pioneered the use of MAT for inmates at the Adult Correctional Institute and
the state has expanded funding for peer recovery support services offered
through Medicaid. Yesterday, Governor Raimondo signed an Executive
Order while standing alongside the Acting Director of the Office of
National Drug Control Policy, Richard Baum, who has committed to fighting our
nation's opioid epidemic.
CVS Health, based in Woonsocket, is one of the state's top
employers and the nation's largest pharmacy innovation company. This
partnership builds on the company's overall commitment to address and prevent
opioid abuse and misuse in the communities it serves. The company's prevention
education program has reached more than 275,000 students across the U.S., its
safe drug disposal program has helped eliminate more than 80 metric tons of
unused medication from communities nationwide, and its work to increase access
to the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone has reached 41 states.