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Florida Looking to Get to Addiction’s CORE?

Florida Looking to Get to Addiction’s CORE?

By rights we should be cheering the news. After all, Florida has lately been about covering up negative numbers rather than addressing them, especially if they concern health care. Yet here we are, the state not only seemingly facing its overdose crisis but actually announcing a program to fight addiction to boot. The program is reportedly called CORE. And it’s supposed to save lives.

The thing about it is though is that not one official provided any real details of the program. Oh, there was a lot of talk about coordinated care – CORE apparently stands for Coordinated Opioid Recovery – but other than mention of a new overseer and a couple participating state agencies, no one said who’d be administering that care, let alone how or even where.

That’s another thing. CORE is supposed to be a statewide program, but it’s only being set-up in 12 of 67 counties, and even those in two separate phases. Naturally, not one of those dozen counties is in the Southeast or Southwest of the state. Some say that’s because the urban cores aren’t as easy to treat. Others insist it’s because they’re not as easy to fool. Still others claim it’s simply because the Gov ain’t so popular down on the sunny side of the state. Heck, it could be all of the above – or none.

Whatever the case, it was even odder that the announcement included just one brief mention of CORE beginning as a Palm Beach County pilot program. There were no stats to show how it’s performed over the last two years either. In fact, the DeSantis people didn’t even mention whether Palm Beach County was still involved with the program.

The Core of CORE

We have a sinking suspicion that this governor’s announcement was not much more than mere window dressing. Oh, the administration will probably launch some small programs in rural counties where things are cheap and risks are minimum, but we really don’t see them doing much more than that.

We sure hope they do though. Much much more. Like we said, CORE supposedly stands for Coordinated Opioid Recovery. And now more than ever we need coordinated opioid recovery. Yet there was no word on how the rural county stakeholders will be coordinating, either among themselves or between the various state agencies. We assume they will coordinate. After all, it’s in the name.

What’s in a Name?

And what’s in that name anyway? Well, from what we can gather, the name is the only thing the DeSantis Administration actually came up with on their own. Yes, the acronym is unoriginal. And no, there’s no word on what the “E” means. Everything else though seems to spring from Palm Beach County’s earlier initiative.

In fact, it appears as if the DeSantis Administration simply copied Palm Beach County’s coordinated program and then slapped on their own name. Then they unceremoniously cut PBC and their South Florida neighbors completely out of the process. Worse, they took two years to do it. That’s two years of record overdoses when the DeSantis people did absolutely nothing but watch Palm Beach County fight it out by themselves. And don’t blame COVID either. Remember, this administration wouldn’t even admit Florida had COVID cases, let alone a COVID problem.

Granted the DeSantis team did recruit Dr. Courtney Phillips, who is/was the Director of Behavioral Health for the Health Care District of Palm Beach County. Dr. Phillips is slated to serve as the state’s first Director of Opioid Recovery, which is either a stroke of genius or a set-up. Perhaps it’s both. After all, if CORE succeeds DeSantis will take credit. If the program fails then the blame all falls on a Palm Beach County psychiatrist. And what rural Northern Floridian will feel sorry for someone like that?

Origin of CORE

Again, Palm Beach County has long been fighting opioid abuse. And they’ve been doing so without anyone’s permission – or their help. And that includes the current Governor of the State of Florida. In fact, it was the the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners that provided the funding for its Addiction Stabilization Unit. And it was PBC’s Health Care District’s specialty care benefit program, “District Cares,” that covered those most in need. The District also stepped up and did the all important coordinating between community partners, including the Southeast Florida Behavioral Health Network, State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s Sober Home Task Force and the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners themselves.

Here’s how the County’s Health Care District summed up their opioid fighting initiative:

The Health Care District of Palm Beach County’s response set out to create a different model of care that would go beyond the “traditional” models used to treat addiction disorders. Several criteria served as guiding principles: (1) provide evidence-based medical treatment; (2) ensure that life-saving treatment is readily available to the largest number of patients; and (3) make sure patients are treated with a warm handoff from the point of emergency overdose treatment through access to long-term treatment.

It is a coincidence that DeSantis’s Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE) seems to be (clumsily) based on Palm Beach County’s Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program (COSSAP)?

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Frankly, we don’t care. We just want folks to get the help they need. If it takes someone else taking the credit, so be it. Just get it done. Please. And sorry, but blaming the problem on Joe Biden’s border policies isn’t what we call getting it done.

Healing Properties

Healing Properties would be delighted to see a truly comprehensive opioid response effort across the state. Unfortunately, CORE doesn’t seem to be it. In the first place, there are no numbers to cite. There aren’t any concrete plans or participants either. Just 12 counties, broken down into two groups. Furthermore, it appears every participating subject will be guided to mediation-assisted treatment. What if an individual doesn’t want subs or methadone? Will they be disqualified?

What’s the penalty for disqualification anyway? What if someone leaves AMA? Do they then get arrested? What if it’s because they can’t risk losing their job? Do they get fired anyway? There are all kinds of questions left unanswered. All kinds of ifs that are being held back by buts.

Nevertheless, we do need such a thing. So we can only hope this thing of theirs serves that need.

How about you? Are you in need of some coordinated opioid recovery? Are you not in one of the above counties? Well, then give us a ring. We’ll help get you sorted, no matter where you are. Really.

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