According to the Department of Health Services, 827 people died in Wisconsin of opioid overdose deaths in 2016. From 2000 to 2016, the number of deaths in Wisconsin due to prescription opioids increased 600 percent, from 81 to 568 in 2016. The Lakes Community Health Center, Inc. d/b/a NorthLakes Community Clinic has responded to the crisis with a unique public private partnership.
NorthLakes serves 10 counties and is now focusing their attention on expanding their opiate treatment program. In 2015, NorthLakes received funding from the State of Wisconsin to start a Heroin and Opiate Prevention and Education (H.O.P.E) Program at their Ashland and Iron River locations. H.O.P.E. staff work with patients seeking treatment for opiate addiction. The basis of this treatment is medication-assisted treatment combined with Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse counseling. The H.O.P.E. Program has been enormously successful and NorthLakes has helped over 500 people in last two years.
Using a $5 million USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Direct Loan, NorthLakes Community Clinic contributed $873,600 and closed on their loan in December 2017. They purchased a building in downtown Ashland and renovations will include additional Recovery Program space to accommodate the growing group therapy needs and also house their dental program which will grow from one to three full time dentists. Based on the HOPE Program’s success, they received new state funding to expand their recovery services to include treatment for methamphetamine addiction and to replicate their program in Douglas County in partnership with Lake Superior CHC, a sister health center: .
In Hayward, Chippewa Valley Bank provided a $1.3 million Community Facilities Guaranteed loan enabling North Lakes to acquire and remodel a medical clinic to house their Recovery and Mental Health practices allowing for expansion of the Recovery Program from one day per week to three days per week with additional AODA therapists from two full time psychotherapists to four. Renovations will also include moving their dental practice allowing expansion from two full time dentists to three.
In Turtle Lake, construction of a new building funded by the USDA loan will expand dental and behavioral health space immediately and is being built with future expansions in mind to support plans to bring additional dental, behavioral health and psychiatric services to the community.
They will also add additional space to their Iron River site and double the size of their current Ashland facility. The combination of funding sources and North Lakes willingness to enhance medical services to a large portion of the underserved population in these rural areas are a testament to public private partnership.