Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hospital-Based Outreach Connects Patients with Drug Treatment

Brandywine Counseling and Christiana Care have found that placing an intervention specialist on site at the hospital helps get people into treatment who otherwise were not seeking help for their addiction.

Since September 2008, a BCI staff member has been working full time on site at Wilmington Hospital. His job is to be available “on demand” to patients who show signs of substance abuse. The hospital staff sends him referrals mostly from the emergency room, but also the inpatient, outpatient, and CAPES (Crisis and Psychiatric Emergency Assessment) departments. Intakes for treatment are available on site two days a week. If treatment or other services outside the hospital are needed, we make the linkages and assist the patient in following through.

We saw a need for this service, just by looking at drug abuse as a health issue. Drug use is known to increase your risk of chronic disease, including heart disease and cancer. A recent study showed that over an 8 year period, Johns Hopkins treated over 20,000 patients who abused two or more drugs. The average health care cost per patient was about $1300. If more patients got into treatment earlier, it may potentially improve their health and also avoid future health care costs.

Here are the results of our project: In a 4 month period, 122 patients at Wilmington Hospital agreed to speak with our BCI liaison. Their most common drug of choice was alcohol. Over half had at least one prior treatment episode, but 35% had never been in treatment before. 99 patients were referred to a treatment program and 59 were successfully admitted.

The fact that 35% of people never had treatment before shows we’re reaching a population we wouldn’t otherwise come in contact with. It was also surprising that only 21% were homeless; whereas we thought the majority would be. So we’re seeing people who have some level of stability in their life, but haven’t recognized on their own the problems their addiction creates.

Wilmington Hospital tells us the response and need for service have been exceptional. The numbers certainly back this up. We’ll continue to keep you updated as this effort moves forward.

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