Local Emergency Room Overdose Program Receives Recovery Reinvented Trailblazer Award
BISMARCK –Heartview Foundation, Sanford Health, CHI, Ministry on the Margins, and the Bismarck Police Department received the Trailblazer Award last week at Recovery Reinvented. In January, the Bismarck Police Department received a grant of nearly $1 million from the Department of Justice to help combat the opioid overdose epidemic. The grant placed Heartview staff in local emergency rooms to bridge the gap between emergency services and opioid treatment.
“Typically, if Narcan is given by a police officer or member of the public, the overdose victim is taken to the ER, stabilized, and released,” says Kurt Snyder, Heartview Foundation’s executive director. “This grant has given us the ability to meet individuals at one of the lowest points of their lives and provide peer support and buprenorphine, a medication assisted treatment, for a few days, when they can either enter services at Heartview, another treatment facility, or we can help them transition safely into the community.”
Through the program, which began in August, a peer support specialist meets the patient at the emergency room to provide support through mutual, lived experience. The emergency room doctor prescribes needed medications and a Heartview case manager transitions the client into Heartview’s treatment programs to stabilize their life as soon as possible.
“Law enforcement cannot arrest our way out of the opioid epidemic,” says Bismarck Police Chief Dave Draovitch. “There must be a way to get people help for their addiction at the time they need it. This program allows that to happen.”
“Research tells us that starting the person on medication assisted treatment while in the ER, right after an overdose, decreases death rates by 50%,” says Cathy Palczewski, the Heartview grant project manager. “Connecting an overdose victim to peer support takes the fear and clinical nature away from the unknown and makes them feel at ease and in similar company.”
Overdose victims not ready to commit to treatment receive initial peer support services from Heartview and then transition to community outreach provided by Ministry on the Margins, with the end goal being to eventually get the person into treatment or engaged in the recovery community.
The peer support staff in the ER can directly relate to the struggles of overdose victims. “It is helpful for us to be there because we relate to them,” says Beth Hale, a Heartview peer support specialist. “We know the struggles, the worries and fears. We can let them know they aren’t alone. Since we’ve been where they are and now we are on the other side of things it can give hope to others who are still struggling.”
Heartview Foundation is a private, nonprofit alcohol and drug treatment and education program with locations in Cando and Bismarck. Since 1964, Heartview has served over 30,000 patients and families from all over the US and Canada. For more information, visit www.heartview.org.