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The Opiate Treatment Outpatient Program: Treating HCV in a One-Stop Shop

OTOP located at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital is a highly respected and highly coveted safe environment, which our clients cherish and look to for some stability in an uncertain world. One of the greatest characteristics of OTOP is our non-judgmental nature, and how we treat every single client with the respect and dignity where our clients are allowed to be themselves. When the Hepatitis C clinic began admitting clients in July of 2016, the flow of clients allowed for it to become more than a clinic now offering Hepatitis C treatment, but a place where rejuvenation can occur in a community that can thrive to end Hepatitis C.

Beginning at intake, for OTOP’s methadone treatment clinic, our client’s are screened for the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Once it has been established that the client’s HCV is chronic, they are referred to the ““Hep C”” nurses where they can be assessed for treatment readiness and given the diagnostic tests needed. The “Hep C” team reaches out to the client’s Primary Care provider for a multi-faceted and intricate approach to collaborate on issues pertaining to HCV. Once these steps are completed and finalized the clients are referred to our HCV providers for a HCV evaluation for treatment. Many clients appreciate the intimate setting of this environment, because they get to receive HCV treatment in a place of familiarity.

The clients who attend the OTOP methadone clinic daily are enrolled in our direct observed therapy (DOT) program where they conveniently receive their Hepatitis C medication. This blend of therapy and medication management makes OTOP a unique location because the client only needs to travel to one location to receive these services. We call it a “One stop shop”. Clients enrolled in HCV treatment meet with the “Hep C” nurses during their 1st, 4th, and 12th week of treatment to discuss adherence to the medication, and to offer any kind of support needed. Many of the clients check in with the “Hep C” nurses, to voice gratitude or to provide other insights/experiences about their HCV treatment. Being a “Hep C” nurse is such an awesome experience at OTOP because you get to spend quality time with your patients and provide evidence-based, patient- centered care.

The HCV clinic at OTOP involves a community of dedicated doctors, nurses, counselors and other auxiliary staff that create a macrocosm of love, hope and healing. Our primary goal is to promote awareness of HCV treatment and make sure our clients are aware of the life changing experience that happens when a client receives hepatitis C treatment. Most importantly, at OTOP we are lucky to work with a phenomenal and diverse clientele.

OTOP’s position as a care center for Hepatitis C clients is not only essential for healing many forgotten members of communities, but without treatment from OTOP many of our clients would not receive services and would succumb to the throngs of disease and addiction. In addition to having hepatitis C virus, many of our clients have other chronic illnesses. The negative stigma of health care professions and bad medical experiences contributes to the lack of trust that many clients have in the medical system. We ameliorate this at OTOP by creating an environment where we can treat the causes and symptoms of Hep C, while also having direct observed therapy that ensures adherence to medication compliance. At OTOP, we find that our clients are the best networkers for introducing awareness of Hepatitis C treatment to new clients. When the clients have positive experiences, they actively advocate in their communities and spread the word about promoting HCV treatment.

Within one week of treatment, many clients report they have more energy, a positive outlook on life and can feel the tangible changes in their bodies. Some clients that had issues adhering to their medication regimen prior to HCV treatment, once enrolled in HCV treatment showed up daily to the clinic. This daily adherence to HCV treatment improved their methadone therapy treatment.

Near the end of their HCV medication treatment many clients cry, dance and express feelings of being proud, humble and grateful. At OTOP we give our clients a medal after they complete their treatment to show them that everyone at OTOP is behind them with support and positive encouragement. Our HCV clinic is still growing, changing, and striving to cure as many clients that we can to “End Hep C”.

OTOP is a diamond in the rough, a refuge in a world that can sometimes be harsh and cold. OTOP is place that has a positive impact, where clients can be free to be who they want to be. OTOP is a safe community that provides a stigma-free, judgment-free zone for clients to heal. I have always fostered an educational environment and advocacy for patient awareness. I feel very fortunate to work in a community setting where the staff goes above and beyond to work exceptionally hard for the “Greater Good” of our clients.

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