Tampa General Hospital Partners with Central Florida Behavioral Health Network to Combat the Opioid Epidemic in Hillsborough CountyPublished: Oct 17, 2023
The academic health system works to increase access to behavioral health services with support from community partners.
Tampa, FL (Oct. 17, 2023) – Tampa General Hospital (TGH) announced today a new partnership with the Central Florida Behavioral Health Network (CFBHN) to treat Floridians suffering from opioid use in Hillsborough County and help put an end to the epidemic. Through a mobile unit program, IDEA (Infectious Disease Elimination Act) Exchange Tampa, Tampa General and CFBHN are offering a broad array of low-barrier health care services for those affected by opioid use disorder in the local community. This program is the first of its kind in the region.
“IDEA Exchange Tampa is the only mobile program in the region that offers treatment to Floridians affected by an opioid use epidemic,” said Dr. Jason Wilson, FACEP, associate professor and director of the Division of Emergency Medicine in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, associate medical director of the Emergency Department at Tampa General Hospital, and one of the medical directors for IDEA Exchange Tampa. “Deaths tied to opioid overdose in Hillsborough County this year are expected to exceed the 2022 death toll.
By increasing access to care through the mobile unit, we can effectively prevent drug-related deaths and help patients get on the road to recovery.”
IDEA Exchange Tampa is free and offers both confidential and anonymous treatment options for symptoms that do not require an emergency room visit. Using the mobile unit, Tampa General and CFBHN can reach individuals in the communities where they live to administer buprenorphine, an FDA-approved medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD), offer HIV and Hepatitis C screenings and treatments, treat general and injection-related wounds, provide referrals to addiction treatment programs, distribute Narcan, engage in peer navigation and address structural determinants of health through resources like an on-site food pantry and insurance navigation.
This mobile unit aims to reach individuals who either do not typically qualify for treatment in the community or are unable to access treatment. Tampa General and CFBHN have worked tirelessly to develop the relationships necessary to launch this partnership, which includes collaboration with several community stakeholders to address social determinants of health. Visits to IDEA Exchange Tampa focus on patients’ overall health and treatment options. In the three years since the mobile unit launched, IDEA Exchange Tampa has amassed more than 1,400 patients, reversed approximately 500 overdoses per month and treated 17 cases of HIV.
“I am deeply moved by the positive effects this program has had in the local community, with empathy as a pillar of everything we do. We consider participants part of our key stakeholder network,” said Dr. Heather Henderson, CAP, CRPS, and one of the IDEA Exchange Tampa program directors.
Participants have the right to take an active role in developing new policies and services through the IDEA Exchange Tampa Community Advisory Board and are encouraged to do so. IDEA Exchange Tampa staff function in a peer capacity as well, through direct recovery from substance use or mental health. In addition, researchers within IDEA Exchange Tampa are using anonymous data from the program to measure impacts and identify facilitating factors, potential barriers to entry and effective risk-reduction tactics in the community.
“A partnership with an academic health system like Tampa General means that we can exponentially further our reach and improve care,” said Alan Davidson, MA, LMHC, the president and chief executive officer at CFBHN. “Providing patients with access to innovative health care solutions opens up a pathway which allows them the ability to pursue recovery in the future.”
IDEA Exchange Tampa is supported through collaborations among organizations throughout Florida, such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Frontlines of Communities in the United States (FOCUS), Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE), AIDS United, USF Health, Tampa Bay Street Medicine, Pioneer Medical Foundation, Hillsborough County government and the Florida Harm Reduction Collective.To learn more about Tampa General, please visit https://www.tgh.org/. To learn more about CFBHN, please visit https://www.cfbhn.org/. To learn more about IDEA Exchange Tampa, please visit https://www.ideaexchangetampa.com/.