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September 14, 2017

Burlington, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott was joined today by state and local officials and treatment and recovery professionals to announce significant progress in providing access to opiate addiction treatment for individuals in need.  

The waitlist for services in Chittenden County has been eliminated through months of hard work and partnership between state, local and community partners. The state can now quickly meet the demand for treatment services in all 14 counties. 

When visiting Vermont in July, Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Richard Baum noted, “Vermont has made more progress on that challenge [of expanding treatment capacity] than any other state in the country.”

The opening of a new Hub program in St. Albans, expansion of Hub services at the Howard Center – which provides medical services for those struggling with substance use disorder – and additional access to physician practices at the University of Vermont Medical Center have helped close capacity gaps in Vermont’s statewide system.

This work included a team of dedicated professionals meeting weekly in Burlington to focus on waitlist reduction, finding needed resources, connecting with those waiting for care, and working to break down the barriers in the way of providing care.  

The Scott Administration has committed to building upon the progress of previous administrations, re-focusing efforts in the areas of education and prevention, treatment, recovery and enforcement. Collaboration has been key to achieving these waitlist reduction milestones.

State and local law enforcement and the courts are working with the health system to get individuals treatment and prosecute the large dealers. State government – including the Departments of Health and Public Safety, the Blueprint for Health, Governor Scott’s Opioid Coordination Council and the Vermont Legislature – are focused on efforts to address the complex challenge. 

Local officials and the provider community have also played a critical role in this achievement. At a press conference Thursday, Gov. Scott said, “Mayor Miro Weinberger has been instrumental in tackling this issue, and partnerships between doctors in the University of Vermont Medical Center Network and the Howard Center, serving as the hub, have made this announcement possible.” 

Governor Scott was joined at the press conference by Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo, Howard Center CEO Bob Bick, UVM Medical Center President and Chief Operating Officer Eileen Whalen, MHA, RN, Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan, Agency of Human Services Secretary Al Gobeille, Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, and Director of Drug Policy & Prevention Jolinda LaClair. 

“Addressing the waitlist for treatment in Burlington and across the state is an outstanding milestone, but we all know we have much more work to do across all 14 counties. This epidemic touches nearly every Vermont family. It has stolen the lives of those suffering from addiction, and any sense of peace from those who love them. But, we will continue to address this like the public health crisis it is and, together, we can end this epidemic.” – Vermont Governor Phil Scott

“I am very grateful that, during his first months in office, Governor Scott made opening the St. Albans Hub such a high priority, and that he is taking other important steps to get us to this longstanding goal of treatment without delay. We all know this is just the beginning of the effort it will take to turn this crisis around. I look forward to working with Governor Scott, Attorney General TJ Donovan, UVM Medical Center, the Howard Center, and all of our partners to continue this urgent work.” – Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger

“For the individuals and families affected, this is a deeply personal and often urgent concern. As policy-makers we have taken an ‘all hands on’ approach to making sure the people who need or want treatment care can get it – right away and near to where they live. There is so much more to do, but every step forward can mean lives saved and addiction recovery for many Vermonters.” – Al Gobeille, secretary of the Agency of Human Services

“Although significant work remains to eradicate the opioid epidemic, the elimination of the waiting list at the Chittenden Clinic and the number of overdose reversals recorded by Safe Recovery represent important and critical milestones toward treatment on demand and demonstrates both our progress and our community’s compassionate and committed response.” – Bob Bick, chief executive officer of the Howard Center

“We are so proud of the physicians, advanced practice providers and other clinicians in our region who have committed to treating patients with opioid use disorder. Working together with our community partners through efforts like the Chittenden County Opioid Alliance, we know we can make a difference.” – Eileen Whalen, MHA, RN, president and chief operating officer of the UVM Medical Center

"This is an incredible example of the community coming together to address an issue that affects us all. Thank you to the Howard Center and their staff and the UVM Medical Center and their staff and so many more community members. Let us continue to work together because there is more work to do.” – Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan

For more information visit Vermonters with questions on treatment options can dial 2-1-1 to speak with experienced, trained professionals.