The California Bridge Program is establishing a culture of evidence-based medicine in California. Over the course of 17 months (February 2018 – July 2020), accelerated training and technical assistance for health care providers will provide the foundation necessary to enhance and increase access to 24/7 treatment in every community in the state.

The California Bridge Program will develop hospitals and emergency rooms into primary access points for the treatment of acute symptoms of substance use disorders by way of motivation, resources, and encouragement for patients to enter and remain in treatment. Participating sites will address substance use disorders as a treatable chronic illness and utilize harm reduction techniques, such as naloxone distribution, to minimize the risks associated with substance use disorders. Funding, training, and technical assistance will increase and improve access to facility-wide treatment and referral of those with acute symptoms of substance use disorders.

The current cohort includes Star sites, Rural Bridge sites, and Bridge Clinics. Star sites will become centers of excellence for initiating treatment of substance use disorders from anywhere in the hospital. Rural Bridge sites will generally be in less-urban centers and begin developing treatment primarily in the emergency department. Bridge Clinics will be ‘low-threshold’ follow-up clinics that patients can visit after starting treatment in the hospital setting while a longer-term outpatient referral is identified.

Profiles of this work have been widely reported in the New York Times and Vox.