The COVID-19 pandemic creates a dynamic and changing scenario in Seattle, Burien, the country, and the world. The CoLEAD response to the inherent challenges has taught us much in regards to operations, current issues, and emerging concerns.
From our earliest lessons, we know that lodging liaisons are key to the success of the program. Also, ensuring that participants have full awareness of the lodging agreement and its implications is a necessity. On-site medical assessment and care are vitally important as is the provision of food to address immediate medical needs and food insecurity.
We have found harm-reduction measures and responsive support for meth users–in particular stimulant substitution therapy, and medication-assisted-treatments–are effective and often necessary.
LEAD-oriented prosecutorial liaisons (for CoLEAD our prosecutorial liaisons are from the Seattle City Attorney, the King County Prosecuting Attorney, and the Burien City Attorney) provide critical understanding and appropriate strategies to address the complex legal situations of participants with a goal to distance individuals from the far reaching entanglements and barriers of the criminal legal system. In addition, incentives for financial independence and employment programs are effective in reducing further legal involvement and violations.
A diversity of staff, with varied backgrounds and expertise in a range of experiences and modalities, has been highly effective. The shared lived experiences of many of the CoLEAD outreach responders has enabled a non-judgmental, down-to-earth approach to case management.
Regular frustration and limitations with Medicaid-funded behavioral health systems is ongoing and particularly acute amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.