BEND, OR -- A month after five inmates overdosed on fentanyl in a four-hour span, the Deschutes County Jail plans to launch a Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program. Jail Commander Captain Michael Shults says the Sheriff's Office is expanding its partnership with a recovery service called Ideal Option. "We’ve opened our door to Ideal Option and said, ‘If you can get a grant, we’re going to allow you in. We’re going to work with you’," he tells KBND News, "Because, we have a unique relationship right at the start of arrest, all the way through the criminal justice system, we have contact with that individual. And at any point through that process, we have the ability to help turn the tide for that individual and get them help."
Shults says, "Studies have shown that the MAT program reduces drug use, overdose events, as well as promotes recovery in individuals with opiate use disorders. It really helps the whole system - the criminal justice system." The jail already provides treatment options like counseling, but Shults believes offering MAT at the first interaction - screening inmates at booking - will lead to faster, better outcomes, "Let’s get them stabilized into our system so that we can start using some of the other therapies in combination with counseling and trying to create a whole patient outcome for this individual. [So] that when they go back on to the streets, they’re not using illegal drugs; they’re using the drugs that may help them get better so that someday, maybe get off all drugs." Deputies will also help inmates create plans for after release, and Ideal Option conducts follow-up.
DCSO helped Ideal Option secure a state grant, which will cover the cost of providing the multidisciplinary approach, including hiring two more nurses and treatment medications he says would otherwise be too expensive for the agency.