Back to Community Stories

ORN Enhances Staff Skills at Leading Outpatient Center

Valley Health Associates (VHA) in Salinas, CA, reached out to the Opioid Response Network (ORN) when looking for support to build capacity and sustainability for the organization’s medication assisted treatment and recovery programs. Amy Bravo, Executive Director, VHA, asked ORN to play a part in building up the skills of her substance use disorder (SUD) staff.

VHA is a leading outpatient center in Monterey County. The non-profit agency offers individualized, collaborative and evidence-based treatment and recovery services for people living with alcohol and opioid use disorders. VHA had recently begun serving as the hub for SUD treatment in the county and was expanding the scope of its services. The timing was critical as “since 2018 Monterey County's opioid overdose rate has tripled, increasing the need to train counselors and clinicians in evidence-based practices and expand services to include access to treatment,” Bravo said.

ORN provided local training and technical assistance for VHA on many fronts. More than 200 staff participated in six separate trainings during the summer of 2019. Examples of those trainings follow.


Guillermo Rodriquez, Clinical Director, VHA; Michael Salinas, Adolescent Outpatient Service Manager, VHA; Amy Bravo, Executive Director, VHA; and Mamta Bhakta, MA, ORN TTS

Expanding SUD Treatment Services to Adolescents

In June 2019, Emily Tejani, MD and Jeffrey DeVido, MD, working together in their roles as ORN consultants, provided a day-long, in-person training to VHA clinical and executive staff. The goal was to assist the organization in developing a new program for adolescents and transitional age youth with SUD. According to Dr. Tejani, ORN first worked with VHA to learn more about its mission, the professional backgrounds of their staff and the patient population they serve to design the training to meet their needs.

“As in most parts of the country, there is an extreme shortage of SUD prevention and treatment services for youth in Monterey County. While VHA has a long history of providing SUD treatment to adults, and their clinical staff is experienced with medication assisted treatment, psychotherapy and recovery services in this population, few had prior experience working with adolescents,” Dr. Tejani said. Given the variety of skill sets and clinical approaches often necessary when working with adolescents, Dr. Tejani provided a training on evidence-based SUD treatment for youth. Dr. DeVido provided training on new advances and clinical standards of care for SUD treatment.

Monterey Peer Recovery Coach Train the Trainer Program

In July 2019, ORN worked with VHA on a peer recovery coach train-the-trainer program. It focused on developing skills and knowledge in participants to facilitate a recovery coach student training curriculum. According to ORN consultant, John de Miranda, Ed.M, the request for assistance “came at a time when the county was implementing an initiative to support the provision of peer recovery support services under new Medi-Cal rules. ORN was critical in identifying a curriculum and a trainer who could deliver a two-day peer recovery training-of-trainer that included all county agencies.”

ORN onboarded George Braucht, LPC, for the job. Braucht’s specialty is professional and peer workforce development. During the two-day training, he assessed the core competencies of participants as trainers and taught techniques for building mutually supportive and challenging learning communities. This training, said Mamta Bhakta, Clinical Specialist, UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs and ORN Technology Transfer Specialist, proved to be a unique opportunity for all Monterey County. VHA invited agencies from across the country to participate including Door to Hope, Sun Street Centers and Community Human Services.


If your organization is considering creating similar programs, please contact ORN at orn@aaap.org or make a request at www.opioidresponsenetwork.org.