Most people in East County probably think of public transportation when they hear the word “BART,” but there is another organization bearing that moniker that offers services of a different kind.
BAART (Bay Area Addiction Research and Treatment) of Antioch is a medication-assisted treatment clinic of opioid use disorder that offers a variety of services, with little to no cost for individuals who may be unable to pay for treatment. In addition to medication-assisted treatment, BAART offers counseling, primary care services, addiction education, relapse prevention support and disease screenings for high-risk people.
Danielle Aubin is a patient navigator at BAART. She helps new patients navigate the facility’s intake process and obtain treatment. Her background in substance abuse counseling enables her to serve the people who are seeking help at the clinic.
“We can provide treatment for free to individuals suffering from opioid use disorder through our FORQ grant funding,” Aubin said. “We can do this for anyone who might have a financial barrier. If they do have commercial insurance but are reticent to use it for privacy concerns, maybe their insurance is through their employer and they are worried it might get back to their employer, we can provide the grant and treat them privately.”
Doctors at BAART prescribe methadone and buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorder. Patients taking advantage of the medication must also agree to a counseling schedule because the combination of counseling and medication has proven more successful than medication alone, doctors say.
Aubin said the clinic has seen many success stories, some with bumps along the way, but that ultimately lead to patients achieving whole, healthy lives.
Another benefit is that the clinic does not require patients to take time off work or leave them unable to meet obligations.
“Patients may be coming into our clinic daily initially, but only to receive their medication,” she said. “Their meetings with the doctor and medical team will be less frequent, only when they need to adjust their medication, which they are in control of. This is one of the few treatment programs where you don’t have to put your life on hold.”
She noted BAART has an open-door policy, and patients are able to stop receiving treatment at any time, and will be welcomed back if a relapse occurs. Working through the stigma of addiction and relapse is part of the process. Treatment Center Director RoseMarie Laguna said patients can always expect help when they walk in the clinic doors.
“I’ve worked in fields where there’s always been a stigma,” Laguna said. “I worked in mental health, and there was a stigma there. With COVID, there has been an increase in issues, in depression, but when you come here, there is no stigma whatsoever. We get it all the time, and we are trying to change that and make it better for the community.”
In addition to a welcoming atmosphere, Laguna said privacy is a top concern. BAART not only operates under the normal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) obligations governing any medical facility and protecting patient privacy, but also under 42 CFR Part 2, a federal regulation catering to patient privacy for substance abuse diagnosis and treatment.
Aubin said privacy is often a major concern of those seeking treatment due to the stigmas surrounding addiction, but BAART will always protect the privacy of its patients.
“Confidentiality is a big thing in this field, and we have strict guidelines we adhere to to protect patient privacy,” Aubin said. “Even if a probation officer were to come speak to us, we can only communicate what the patient has specifically given permission to us in writing.”
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