Downtown Chilli

New effort in Adena ER aims to connect people to drug treatment including BrightView

May 6, 2019

CHILLICOTHE – A new program at Adena Regional Medical Center is targeting emergency department patients struggling with alcohol and drug addiction and connecting them with resources including harm reduction and treatment services.

In 2018, Adena reports it had upwards of 4,600 substance abuse-related cases across its emergency departments in Chillicothe, Waverly and Greenfield. About a quarter of those cases involved marijuana, 20% alcohol, and 17% opioids.

Social worker Nikki Priest is at the center of the effort, meeting with patients in the Chillicothe emergency department or calling those who were identified during her off hours. Since beginning in February, Priest estimates 90 percent have been receptive to talking with her.

“Some patients don’t want to talk to me and they’re very shut off while other patients are confused someone cares and is asking,” said Priest, who has worked as a social worker at Adena for about 18 months.

The effort started in February with the aid of a grant from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to implement an Emergency Department Intercept and Navigation to Support. Adena, which applied in partnership with the Hope Partnership Project, was one of four hospitals to receive the grant.

“The grant’s purpose is to better identify the people who have substance abuse because we weren’t really tracking or doing that,” Priest said.

The new approach builds upon what Adena already has been doing to reach out to those who are treated in the emergency room for a drug overdose. A year ago, in partnership with the Ross County Health District, Adena began sending overdose reversal kits home with people who had overdosed, and two years ago, they began making follow-up referrals to the Post Overdose Response Team for those patients who agreed.

When Priest meets with someone, she talks with them about their substance abuse, treatment options, and shares with them a packet of information. The packet includes not just information on treatment, but targets harm reduction by educating on ways of reducing health risks such as Hepatitis, HIV, and overdose if the person remains in active addiction.

Each person leaves with the information including details on where to get tested for STDs, a Project Dawn kit with the overdose reversal drug naloxone, condoms, and fentanyl testing strips have been ordered to also include.

Priest refers those ready to begin treatment with most going to BrightView which has worked with Adena as they put together the program. BrightView has set aside openings for referrals from Adena and has committed to seeing them within a day or two.

“That’s been extremely helpful to get patients that fast turnaround and into treatment,” said Brandon Pritchard, team leader at Adena.

While some may be approved to receive an initial dose suboxone for medication assisted treatment, so far most people are more interested in detox or just want a follow-up call, Priest said.

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