As Buncombe County continues to see success in its response to the opioid epidemic, it has hired a key position to help bolster and diversify services and resources for those suffering from substance abuse disorder. Dr. Shuchin Shukla will use his existing knowledge and experience working with the County’s first responders, health teams, and community-based organizations to look at how to better respond to opioid overdoses. Buncombe County Behavioral Health Manager Victoria Reichard says Dr. Shukla will work on a six-month contract as a Medical Substance Use Professional and is excited about the relationships and skills he brings to this position. “This is an opportunity to build upon current knowledge and further inform opportunities to intervene and prevent a fatal overdose. His vision to make access to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) easier than ongoing substance use and the need for tailored outreach and programs for BIPOC, homeless, and LGBTQ+ communities aligned with what community members have voiced in previous opioid settlement planning surveys,” notes Victoria. “As we expand our Community Paramedicine program to increase capacity for response to overdose calls, behavioral health-related calls, and to be a bridge for those needing access to MOUD, ensuring that we have protocols and processes from a medical substance use professional’s perspective is a valuable addition. This position will also assist the County in establishing countywide reliable data definitions and collection protocols.”
Dr. Shukla brings a unique perspective to the County that will help improve and foster creative ways to address overdose deaths. “I have seen firsthand how evidence-based clinical treatment of addiction can be implemented through a public health lens with collaborative partnerships across agencies and departments. With my new role, I hope to further the innovative and effective responses led by the County and coordinate efforts with community partners,” says Dr. Shukla. His existing knowledge will certainly be an asset and allow him to hit the ground running with his short-term goal of better understanding how local government interacts with communities at risk of experiencing an overdose. “Part of this goal will be to map out what data is being collected about this population to support consistent data definitions and collection practices to ultimately integrate all of this rich information to better understand our community members at the highest risk,” explains Dr. Shukla. “The long-term goal, of course, is to reduce overdose rates in Buncombe County. First, by understanding who is at greatest risk, we can customize existing and upcoming interventions to better serve those individuals. Then, by monitoring process outcomes, we can ensure our interventions are effective and are providing equitable access.”
Buncombe County is excited to have Dr. Shukla on board for this important, community-oriented work. This six-month contract is paid for by the Opioid Settlement Fund. To learn more about the settlement, its work in Buncombe County, and more, click here.
Dr. Shuchin Shukla’s professional biography
Shuchin Shukla was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. He completed medical school and public health school at Tulane University and completed a residency in family medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. He worked in the South Bronx for five years following residency, providing primary care for adults and children, as well as for adults living with HIV. He also served as medical director for Montefiore Project INSPIRE, a primary care-based Hepatitis C treatment program. He then moved with his family to Asheville, North Carolina, where he has been a physician at Western North Carolina Community Health Services, then faculty physician and Clinical Director of Health Integration at Mountain Area Health Education Center, and now staff physician at Julian F Keith Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Center.