Health & Hope is a newsletter designed to educate and inspire Western Montanans on life-saving procedures, community events and services to keep you and your family healthy.

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Part of that means making sure their patients have basic necessities. Often, Shepard says, a patient will come in after having been kicked out of where they were staying, running from an abusive partner or just wandering in off the streets. They may have sold everything they owned to pay for their habit. So, the MAT team spent $2,500 to put together backpacks filled with such necessities as sweatshirts, socks, energy bars and other snacks, toothbrush, toothpaste, and Narcan nasal spray, which can save a life during a drug overdose. "Some come to us with literally just the clothes on their back," Shepard says. "We would be rifling through our breakroom looking for food for them. These packs have sweatshirts, protein bars, bus passes … things they need right now." "It is hard for them to focus [on recovery] if they are cold or hungry," says Jenny Keegan, KCHC's grant coordinator, who helped secure the supplies. "This sends the message, 'You are being cared for.'" "Sometimes it is the little things that show someone how much you care," said MAT clinic director Dr. Curtis Mortenson. "The backpacks are a small way we can provide for our patients' basic needs and show them that we care. We hope that they provide a ray of hope to those who receive them." Mortenson said Providence's financial support has helped further the MAT program's efforts at bettering the Kodiak community, one backpack at a time and one patient at a time. "Over the past 10 years I've seen increasing numbers of patients and community members affected by opioid use disorder," says Dr. Mortenson. "I've seen it tear families apart, literally and figuratively. For many addictions there is very little we can do medically, but for opioid addiction there are effective medical treatments. I've seen them work in many of our patients. "Our goal at KCHC is to connect with as many patients suffering from opioid use disorder as possible in hopes of saving their lives and also giving many of them a second chance to be good parents, employees, community members, etc."

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