Addressing Disparities in Opioid Treatment: BHG’s Quality Improvement Approach in Wards 7 and 8

As we observe National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month this July, it’s crucial to highlight the ongoing disparities in opioid-related health outcomes affecting communities of color in the District of Columbia. From 2018 through February 2024, deaths due to opioid use in the District continued to rise, with 85% of all deaths occurring among black residents, particularly in Wards 5, 7, and 8, underscoring the need for targeted interventions.

Integrated Care DC has been working closely with the DC Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) to support Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) providers, including Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) and State Opioid Response (SOR)-funded grantees. Over the past year, tailored assistance provided by our coaches has helped these organizations enhance their services to address the ongoing opioid crisis.

One standout example of this collaboration is our work with Behavioral Health Group (BHG), a federally certified opioid treatment program. Operating in Wards 7 and 8, BHG provides essential services including addiction medication, counseling, and medical care.

Recognizing the importance of culturally sensitive and accessible treatment, BHG launched an initiative to enhance care delivery and improve patient retention. With assistance from Integrated Care DC, BHG launched a three-part staff training series on trauma-informed care, which acknowledges the intricate link between trauma and substance use disorders. This approach aims to foster more open discussions about the underlying causes of continued substance use, which is particularly important in minority communities where mental health stigma often persists.

“Integrated Care DC coaches have been instrumental in providing high-quality strategic planning, training, and development to enhance our current clinical practices in our OTP,” said Tiara Reddick, regional director for BHG. “We continue to grow as a professional team and leader with the support of Integrated Care DC.”

The next phase in BHG’s partnership with Integrated Care DC involves implementing a harm reduction continuous quality improvement (CQI) plan. Using the Plan-Do-Study-Act model, BHG will measure the effectiveness of its harm reduction interventions in real time, ensuring that its approach remains responsive to community needs.

Integrated Care DC supports providers like BHG with customized technical assistance, training, and coaching that helps them develop and implement strategies for collaborative care, motivational interviewing, telehealth, and more. Request a consultation with us today.