Some doctors will go that one step further, even if it’s a very large step.
According to an article posted yesterday on bangordailynews.com, Dr. Meredith Norris, medical director for Grace Street Recovery facilities in Portland and Lewiston, Maine, has opened her doors to treat anyone who needs help recovering from heroin addiction, regardless of whether a person is insured and can pay for their treatment, or not.
Dr. Norris provides medication-assisted treatment, such as methadone to addicts seeking to recover from opioid addiction.
The announcement comes in response to the record number of individuals who died in Maine last year as a result of an overdose. The Portland Press Herald reports that drug overdose deaths in the eastern state grew by 31 percent in 2015, with a total of 107 deaths resulting from heroin use and a total of 157 deaths from heroin, fentanyl, and acetyl fentanyl combined.
To put this in perspective, 57 individuals lost their lives to a heroin overdose just one year before in 2014, and in 2015 this number nearly doubled.
Said Cynthia Fielders of Eliot, Maine, whose son Michael Fielders, 31, died of a heroin overdose last year to the Portland Press Herald, “When I hear these numbers, they are so sobering. But if we sit back and do nothing, and put our blinders on, these numbers will continue to double or triple.”
Dr. Norris is providing appointments for patients, charging simply a nominal amount measured to match each uninsured patient’s budget, says bangordailynews.com.
MaineCare, the state of Maine’s Medicaid branch, has regulations in place that prohibit doctors from offering appointments completely free of charge, but Dr. Norris is trying to make her services easily accessible by all.
Prospective patients wanting to meet with Norris can visit her Kennebunk office with a support person, someone who is available to be by their side through the recovery process.
It’s Norris’ hope that offering addiction recovery services that almost anyone can afford can help to stir more well-rounded conversations about the treatment options people have available to them.
West Virginia currently holds the record as the state with the greatest amount of deaths by overdose in 2015, with over 30 deaths per 100,000 people.