Integrating Bridge Clinics into Emergency Departments to Facilitate Access to Opioid Use Disorder Care

December 2022

As drug overdose deaths increase across the country, many individuals with substance use disorder do not have access to evidence-based treatment. When people with opioid use disorder (OUD) present in emergency departments (EDs), they often receive referrals to start medication-assisted treatment (MAT) at a later date, which can delay access to life-saving treatment. Bridge clinics integrate addiction care into hospital settings and minimize barriers to beginning MAT, which has been shown to reduce overdoses and improve health and social outcomes.

CA Bridge has supported the rapid implementation of the evidence-based bridge clinic model at more than 180 hospital EDs across California. In each hospital, a lead clinician and a substance use navigator — often with lived experience of behavioral health conditions — play key roles on interdisciplinary teams to help patients initiate care and access follow-up services.

This 75-minute interactive webinar, made possible through support from the Seven Foundation Collaborative, featured presenters with on-the-ground experience implementing the CA Bridge model. It focused on:

  • Key program elements including roles, training, and workflows;
  • Approaches to linking patients to ongoing care;
  • Lessons on scaling up implementation of a bridge model for addiction care;
  • Guidance on building institutional commitment for this program and a culture of harm reduction among hospital staff across diverse geographies, including rural environments.

Presenters included Arianna Campbell, PA-C, director and co-principal investigator for CA Bridge and an emergency department physician assistant; Wendy Martinez, navigator mentor for CA Bridge and a substance use navigator; and Siri Nelson, MHA, president and CEO of Marshall Medical Center, a hospital that implemented the model.

This webinar is part of the Better Care Playbook Implementation Lab series. These sessions explore implementation strategies for specific models or tools with demonstrated evidence. Ample opportunities are available for participants to ask questions to help further their understanding of moving evidence to practice.  

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