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State Health department accepting bids for 'Centers of Excellence'

Sarah Mueller
DHSS Secretary Kara Odom Walker

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services is requesting bids for substance abuse treatment “Centers of Excellence.”

The health department is using $2 million in federal funding to strengthen supports for Delawareans struggling with opioid addiction.

Delaware Health and Social Services Secretary Kara Odom Walker said her department plans to open “Centers of Excellence” throughout the state starting later this year.

Walker said the purpose is to connect people hooked on opioids or heroin with substance abuse treatment and support services. The centers will include a peer coach and cover the entire state.

She said around 5,000 people in Delaware need addiction treatment and aren’t getting it.

“The vision is that someday this is seen as a chronic disease, just like diabetes or high blood pressure - where you know it’s not a barrier to getting into the care that’s necessary,” she said.

Walker says the goal is for each center to see 300 new patients in the first year, for a total of 900 new patients.

She also said one of the ways “Centers of Excellence” will help people suffering from opioid addiction is by using medication assisted treatment.

The medications help with withdrawal symptoms and cravings. But Walker said Delaware needs more medical providers who can write those prescriptions.

“Whatever we can do to encourage more providers to get trained and up to speed and comfortable, the better we’ll do with dealing with the real capacity need we have in the workforce because you’re absolutely right," she said. "I mean we just need more people in treatment and we need more people to figure out where to go.”

The centers aim to treat all the needs of the patient, not just the addiction. Many people with addictions also face other barriers to recovery like mental illness, unemployment and homelessness.

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