News & Spotlights

Addressing King County’s Opioid Crisis

October 15th, 2018
HealthPoint Programs & Staff

Addressing King County’s Opioid Crisis


HealthPoint Auburn North now offers a weekly Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Clinic.  While SUD treatment options are available at all HealthPoint sites, this clinic is special because it’s open to everyone (you don’t have to be an existing HealthPoint patient) and no appointment is needed.

The goal?  Remove barriers to care and save lives. 

Low-barrier care is important because substance use often leads to chaos and vulnerability—patients might be homeless, have little social support, and suffer from co-morbid behaviors and health issues.  “Studies show that ready access to medication-assisted treatment like Suboxone keeps people alive and reduces the spread of infectious diseases,” explained Family Medicine Faculty member and SUD supervising physician, Dr. Nate Kittle.

In addition to easy-to-access care, the clinic also provides an opportunity for our Wright Center Family Medicine residents to gain experience and confidence with treating substance use disorders. Given our country’s opioid epidemic and primary care physician shortage, equipping the next generation of family doctors with these skills is especially important.

Dr. Kittle has a pre-clinic huddle with the team, including a staff member from Valley Cities.  We partner with Valley Cities to seamlessly connect patients with more intensive outpatient services, psychiatric care, and mental health counseling as needed.


Dr. Tim Ng was the first resident to work alongside Dr. Kittle in the SUD Clinic.  “The experience opened my eyes,” said Dr. Ng. “Addiction truly is a disease and it hurts more than the patient. It hurts their family, their friends: the whole society.” As someone who is passionate about “helping people live the life they’ve always dreamed of,” Dr. Ng appreciated his SUD Clinic rotation: “this work helps patients get back to the life they want and be part of society again.” 


**EXCITING UPDATE**:  We recently received a significant federal grant to expand services at the Auburn North Substance Use Disorder Clinic.  Among other things, this grant will fund a full-time chemical dependency counselor and a part-time contracted psychiatric nurse practitioner.