The severity of the opioid epidemic affecting our cities and towns is inescapable. At Partners HealthCare, we’ve made enhanced treatment and prevention options a priority for the communities we serve. We also recognize this growing issue requires resources from everyone, including political leadership, law enforcement, and other health care organizations.
Case in point: A program for opioid overdose patients at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth (BID-Plymouth) that promotes improved access to detox programs, psychological counseling, anti-abuse drugs and other programs has had success in reducing recidivism and helping patients return to productive, healthy lives.
Full details of BID-Plymouth’s program can be found in a policy brief from the Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based research organization. In the brief, Combating Opioid Addiction in Massachusetts: A Hospital-Based Solution Shows Promise in Reducing Relapses and ER Costs, author Tom Mashberg outlines how a fast-acting, specialized behavioral health team comprised of nurse practitioners, social workers and substance abuse specialists responds as soon as a patient suffering from an opioid overdose enters the emergency room. The success of this program is remarkable, and worth replicating elsewhere.
Partners is working on this problem too. Newton-Wellesley Hospital has a program that puts overdose-reversing Narcan in the hands of local first responders. And Sarah Wakeman, MD, Medical Director for Substance Use Disorders at MGH, has made strides by leveraging peer advocacy and certified recovery coaches (who are recovering addicts themselves) to ease the path to recovery.
You’ll find these stories and more in the 2015 Partners HealthCare Annual Report.
Whether the program comes out of BID-Plymouth, MGH, or anywhere in between, the goal is a shared one: to quickly intervene and break the cycle of opioid addiction when patients are at their most vulnerable, so that we can curtail opioid addiction’s impact on our communities and prevent new addiction from taking root.
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