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DOC MAT Team Visits Middlesex Sheriff’s Office in Massachusetts to Share About Program

Tags: DOC
May 23, 2023 12:00 AM
By: DOC Staff

The DOC MAT team stands with representatives from the Middlesex County Sheriff's Office

Pictured from right: Robin Brown, Families in Treatment Navigator; Luis Diaz, MATADOR Program Navigator; Ashely Witts, MATADOR Program Director; Peter Koutoujian, Middlesex County Sheriff; Steve Seitchik, PADOC MAT Statewide Coordinator; Amanda Rhoads, PADOC MAT Assistant Coordinator; Katlyn Wyant, PADOC MAT Assistant Coordinator.

​The DOC’s Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) team visited the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office in Massachusetts to learn about that department’s Medication Assisted Treatment and Directed Opioid Recovery (MATADOR) program. MATADOR was recognized as one of only five national best practices for providing MAT in jails. The Middlesex Sheriff's Office has previously been recognized as a Center of Innovation by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) for the MATADOR program.

Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian and DOC Medication Assisted Treatment Statewide Coordinator Steve Seitchik gave a presentation together in Washington, D.C., several years ago, and Koutoujian wanted the PA team to come and see the program and provide feedback. The DOC has been implementing MAT for many years, and Koutoujian wanted to see how his team’s approach compares with other systems of care.

“I am proud the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office is recognized as a national leader and welcome the opportunity to share our work in the fight to save lives and improve public safety,” Koutoujian said. “With the implementation of MAT in jails, sheriffs are innovating by providing new programs to treat addiction and reduce future incidents of crime.

“Combatting the opioid epidemic demands new ideas and thinking throughout all areas of government. We stand ready to assist our colleagues in their efforts to implement MAT programs that will continue to drive innovation in this area.”

The MATADOR Program began in 2015 as Middlesex County continued to witness a rise in overdose deaths linked to the opioid crisis. With a decade of experience studying and implementing public policies to combat the effects of increased opioid use, Sheriff Koutoujian initiated MATADOR to utilize incarceration as a window of opportunity to address the factors that led to criminal behavior, including drug use.

While in Middlesex, the MAT team visited a homeless camp in Lowell, which includes a Narcan container supplied and maintained by the Sheriff’s Office. Luis Diaz showed the team the camp; he was part of a film called “Beyond the Wall,” a documentary focused on reentry that follows several men attempting to reenter society following terms of incarceration and looks at the competing influences of family, addiction, employment and mental health.

An opioid rescue kit with Narcan hanging from a tree

The PADOC’s MAT program is part of the Division of Treatment Services (DTS). Program costs are funded through State Opioid Response grant funds, provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs via a grant from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). PADOC’s MAT coordinators are funded through federal Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) grant funds, provided by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency via a grant from the US Department of Justice.

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