Thursday, October 16, 2008

Satellite Clinics provide rural communities access to treatment

Rural communities face many challenges in providing quality substance abuse services. Often it is difficult to recruit and keep qualified staff as pay levels are generally higher in urban areas. Community resources to provide other wrap around services are limited, but probably the most significant challenge is insufficient public transportation to meet the needs of a large geographic area.

More than half of the individuals who are need of substance abuse services have limited transportation. They either have no licence and are relying on others to transport them, or they lack a reliable vehicle and/or they only have one vehicle per household. In short, getting to treatment can be a burden for individuals who live in rural communities.

GCASA has advanced the notion that, "if the community can not get to treatment, we will take treatment to the community". Providing services at satellite clinics can help to break down the transportation barrier for individuals who need access to services. GCASA has opened four satellite clinics over the past eight years, which services the most eastern and western portions of Genesee and Orleans counties. According to surveys from referral sources and patients, offering treatment closer to home is one of the single most important reasons patients were able to get the help they needed.

Satellite services are not always cost effective for providers. In most cases, satellites cost agencies more to operate then the revenue they generate. It is about making treatment easy to access and providing the opportunity for many individuals to attend counseling on a more regular bases. Attendance improves dramatically for those individuals who, if satellites did not exist, would be driving over 10 - 20 miles to access treatment. However, if New York State makes deep cuts in services, programs may have to consider closing satellite clinics to offset their budget deficits. In rural communities, this could have a serious impact on access to care and also pose problems for referral sources who require individuals to be involved in treatment programs.

1 comment:

David G. Markham said...

Hi John:

Very well stated. Here's hoping we don't have to cut such important programs.

All the best,

David Markham