Mobile Clinics made Opioid Treatment More Accessible

Things at the opiate treatment program at San Francisco General Hospital look a good deal different these days from before the pandemic hit.

For starters, there’s now an option to pick up methadone from a mobile clinic stationed in the hospital’s shaded parking lot, rather than in the traditional clinic inside Ward 93. More crucially, patients can now get the dosage level they need, when they need it, and are able to take their medications home with them — allowances that were previously restricted.

In the spring of 2020, as many medical facilities limited their indoor services, the mobile clinic’s two vans set up shop, enabling patients to continue receiving their addiction-related medications and other treatments without interruption.

Early indicators suggest the changes have helped more patients stick with their substance-use treatments at the hospital’s 50-year-old Opiate Treatment Outpatient Program (OTOP).

“More people are coming, and more people are staying” with their treatment plan, said Dr. Lisa Fortuna, chief of psychiatry