Opioid Hero of the Month: March 2021

Dr. Chun Chiang

Current work, and how COVID-19 has affected work
Now providing healthcare in these correctional facilities, Dr. Chiang has learned how these populations are significantly underserved. During their time there Dr. Chiang and his team do their best to get a baseline of these patients’ health, and to educate these patients as much as possible on the importance of follow-up, and routine check-ups once they are released and need to go towards other providers. Some of the challenges Dr. Chiang faces treating these patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) is the long term treatment of these patients, and the development of healthy networks to help these patients maintain sobriety beyond their treatment. COVID-19 impacted Dr. Chiang’s work by causing an immediate transition towards more strict precautions when treating these patients. It was difficult to educate these patients on better lifestyles because of the conditions they were already in, and it was difficult to do things such as social distancing.

Accomplishments, Future plans, and Shoutouts
Some accomplishments Dr. Chiang has accomplished in his work include initiating more patients on MAT in the last 12-15 months than most single correctional facilities in the same time period. This has provided patients across Orange County the opportunity of recovery that they deserve. Dr. Chiang’s short term plans for the future include increasing the amount of x-waivered providers and getting more providers more comfortable initiating MAT programs with more of their patients. In the long term, Dr. Chiang would like to create a program outside of these facilities for his patients to transition if they do choose to transition to long term care after they are released. He would also like to move towards a low barrier approach where we can provide medication to patients with OUD with less barriers than with a high barrier approach that requires a longer standardized assessment. Dr. Chiang understands that this is something difficult to introduce to many providers, but with the perseverance and support from him and his team they look forward to being able to lighten the fear providers may have with this approach. Some organizations and individuals Dr. Chiang would like to shout out are the California Society of Addiction Medicine, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Dr. Brian Hurley, and Dr. Mario san Bartolome. Dr. Hurley has helped Dr. Chiang set up the program they are currently using in the correctional facilities in Orange County, and Dr. Mario has helped be a subject matter expert for their providers to consultat with. We have seen both of these physicians on SafeRxOC in our previous two highlights if you would like to check them out. Overall, Dr. Chiang is a significant figure in the Orange County community that’s not only helped improve our MAT programs in the correctional facilities, but has served as an amazing advocate for pushing towards more MAT services for all types of patients.

Introduction and upcoming to OC and efforts against opioids

For this Month’s Opioid Epidemic Hero of the Month we would like to introduce Dr. Chun Chiang who is the Medical Director for Correctional Health Services at the Orange County Healthcare Agency. He is responsible for the healthcare services to patients at the detention facilities in Orange County. He started his journey in Orange County when he first attended undergrad at UC Irvine. He attended medical school at the Medical College of Wisconsin and did his residency at Long Beach Memorial Hospital in Family Medicine. Dr. Chiang’s efforts against the Opioid Epidemic started with mainly pregnant patients at these facilities who needed treatment not only for themselves but for their child as well. In 2019, he has helped many prescribers receive their x-waiver to create a larger MAT program in Orange County.

Is there an Opioid Epidemic Hero in your community in Orange County? If so, let us know at saferxoc@gmail.com!  We would love to include them in our series.