ORN Using Novel Approach to Help South Dakota Address Local Needs

The South Dakota Department of Social Services reached out to the Opioid Response Network (ORN) for help establishing evidence-based best practices for addressing opioid use disorder (OUD). Tiffany Wolfgang, the state’s Behavioral Health Services Division Director, said ORN’s support has “proven to be very valuable and well received. We appreciate [the consultant’s] ability to provide the perspective of an experienced medication assisted treatment provider and support the newer programs in South Dakota.”

In February 2018 and again in February 2019, the frontier state announced it was increasing its support for OUD professional training and education. According to the state, funding supports evidenced-based knowledge so behavioral health and healthcare providers can increase their professional competency regarding opioids. Among its prevention, treatment and recovery efforts, the state awarded funds to three sites to build and enhance their medication assisted treatment (MAT) services.

“The state is specifically looking to standardize their services,” explained Marvis Doster, the ORN Technology Transfer Specialist managing the request. “To accomplish this, we helped by pairing the state with an ORN consultant to guide them through evidence-based best practices and become an overall mentor on OUD care and treatment. This approach is a unique offering and has been incredibly rewarding for South Dakota.”

ORN Consultant Dean Krahn, MD, a board-certified Addiction Psychiatrist with years of addiction treatment, program development and leadership experience, was chosen as South Dakota’s technical assistance consultant. He was asked to work closely with leadership throughout the state via teleconferencing and in-person meetings. Together, they thought creatively about next steps for each program currently providing MAT. They discussed possible partnerships between MAT providers and programs needing to access MAT for people with OUD and talked about how and why the programs not offering MAT should scale the barriers facing them. “This has been very beneficial in providing support to newer MAT programs as well as more advanced programs,” said Ms. Wolfgang.

The South Dakota Department of Social Services’ aims to ensure the addiction treatment agencies they accredit are MAT capable—either with in-person services or telehealth services supporting MAT. The state is also working with the jails and prisons to support access to MAT for the justice involved population.

ORN was created to address prevention, treatment, and recovery of opioid use disorder. The national initiative provides training and technical assistance across the country. Activities are locally driven and support is provided by local experts.