Alameda Health System (AHS) has expanded the Bridge Program that focuses on specialty-level care for substance use disorders to provide a more integrated model of care for patients in need. The Bridge Program treats patients who abuse alcohol, stimulants, opioids, prescription medicines or any other substances.

As part of this integrated and team-based approach to provide patients with high-quality care and improve the patient experience, the Buprenorphine Induction Clinic (BIC) has merged with the Highland Hospital Bridge Program to support the expansion of comprehensive and multidisciplinary services for patients with substance use disorders.  The BIC, Bridge Behavioral Health and the Bridge Clinic are now working in tandem to deliver patient-centered team-based care so that each patient gets the care and treatment they need when and where they need it.

“Before this consolidation of services, the health care provided for patients with substance abuse disorders at AHS was very siloed,” said  Karen Wise, Director Integrated Behavioral Health Services. “Patients would get their counseling services from one department and their medication from another and we realized there was a great opportunity to bring all of these services together under one team to provide the best care for our patients,” she said.

The combined staffing now allows AHS patients to see a provider five days a week for medication, counseling and care management. This gives patients one point of contact and an individualized care plan to address all aspects of their health care needs. In addition, Substance Use Navigators (SUNs) in the Bridge Program are available during business hours to speak to patients and introduce them to services available.

“AHS is committed to the health and well-being of all of our patients and the communities we serve and the expansion of the Bridge Program to support patients who need treatment for addictions is one way we are building on that commitment,” said Wise. “While the literature defines addiction as a chronic disease, like diabetes or heart disease that can’t be cured, addiction can be managed, and people with addiction can, and do recover and AHS is leading the way.”

Highland Hospital has had a substance abuse program since the 1990’s evolving  over the years to better serve specific patient and community needs including patients who have been incarcerated and perinatal patients. Three years ago the program expanded to a general treatment model to treat all patients with any substance disorder.

In 2019 AHS continued to advance these efforts when they were selected among 31 health facilities selected to participate in the California Bridge Program. Funded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grant from the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), it provided an accelerated training program for health care providers facilitated by the Public Health Institute’s Bridge program to enhance access to around-the-clock treatment for substance use disorders.

Today, AHS continues to be seen as a hub in Alameda County for patients seeking care not just for addictions to opioids but for all addictions.

AHS current visit volume is approximately 120 patient encounters per week.  Last March they averaged approximately 60 patients per week, and to date they have the most active ED Bridge program in California according to Wise.  Increasing patient outreach is key and each staff member wears a badge that says: “Need help with pain pills or heroin? Treatment starts here.”

In addition, the Bridge staff is working together with leaders to develop a dedicated mission and training to expand patient outreach.  The collective goal is to let patients know that Highland Hospital is a safe place to receive high-quality care and that they will be treated with dignity and respect on their journey to recovery.

For questions about the Bridge Program contact  the Substance Use Navigators at or (510) 545-2765.