Opioid patient numbers on the rise at Charleston Center

Updated: Oct. 1, 2020 at 7:13 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The largest opioid treatment center in Charleston County, The Charleston Center, says they are seeing a significant increase in patients coming to the center for treatment.

The Charleston Center says it is receiving an award Thursday that will be helpful in maintaining patient treatment standards.

The $80,600 award will go directly towards their pharmacist contract costs, which administrators say is imperative in keeping their patients healthy through this difficult time.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Charleston Center says they have increased their patient capacity by 30% - 35%. The Charleston Center Opioid Program Assistant Administrator Caitlin Kratz says this increase likely comes from more people in isolation, as addiction thrives in isolation.

“We’ve seen a huge increase of folks maybe returning to use, or increasing use during this time,” Kratz said. “So, it’s been really important for us that despite the pandemic, we’ve continued operations this entire time.”

The Charleston Center says this is an award the state has given the county for the past five years ensuring the facility has what it needs to serve the community.

The Charleston Center says their units are at half capacity, which in turn is lowering reimbursement rates and leading to more resources but not more funding, the center says.

This award will allow the center to continue to increase their capacity, Kratz says, as well as increase their medication assisted treatments.

Kratz says the Charleston County community benefits significantly when people are sustained in recovery.

“So even if people don’t feel that direct impact, meaning they have a loved one, there is a significant impact to employment, to the cost tax payer dollar as far as hospitals and law enforcement. We see a decrease in criminal activity," Kratz says.

The Charleston Center says they also hope to use a portion of these funds to bring on additional pharmacists in the coming months.

Despite the significant increase in patients this year, Kratz says they have seen a decrease in opioid overdose deaths.

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