St. Rita’s, mental health groups establish opioid withdrawal program

By John Bush -

LIMA — St. Rita’s Medical Center and two mental health organizations have created a withdrawal management program to help residents who are addicted to opioids.

The Opioid Withdrawal and Linkage Program is a collaborative effort among St. Rita’s, Coleman Professional Services and the Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties. The program combines in-patient and out-patient services, in an effort to treat all aspects of addiction.

“This is our initiative to target the opioid epidemic and address the folks that are ready and willing to seek help,” said Susan Hawk, chief of clinical integration for behavioral health at St. Rita’s. “With this program, we expect to see more folks in recovery, reduced overdoses and a healthier population.”

The program’s participants will first enter a screening process, where Coleman officials will determine if an addict needs in-patient treatment through St. Rita’s. Each patient may also be referred to a physician at the hospital, if Coleman determines this type of medical care is required.

“Not everybody will need to be admitted to the hospital,” Hawk said. “Coleman has medically assisted treatments that are out-patient, and they also have a crisis center that they dedicated for those who want to withdrawal but don’t need a hospital situation. We’re trying to look at all the options available to a patient.”

Whether or not an addict needs to be admitted to the hospital is determined by the severity of their withdrawal symptoms, as well as other medical conditions a person may be suffering from.

“Beyond that, they should be able to have other kinds of care without being hospitalized,” Hawk said.

Regardless of the type of treatment they will receive, each patient who qualifies for the program will be provided a substance abuse specialist who will assist them. The specialist will remain with the patient after they detox, which Hawk said is especially important because drug addiction is a life-long battle.

“They (patients) will be working on their after-treatment process throughout their admission,” she said. “That’s why we have a substance abuse specialist on site with the physician. They will come up with a care plan for the patient for the long haul, so that could mean medically assisted treatments, intensive out-patient care at Coleman, recovery coaching and medicines to help them stay stable.”

As a mission-driven institution, St. Rita’s is usually able to help addicts regardless of their ability to pay. The hospital’s charity assistance program has funding to help pay for this type of treatment, and St. Rita’s also has a small contract with the mental health board for those without insurance. Patients who do have insurance will likely be covered, as most companies are now offering some type of reimbursement for addiction treatment.

“We’re less worried about payment than we are about helping people,” said Dr. Kevin Casey, chief clinical officer at St. Rita’s. “We don’t want money to be a barrier.”

Those interested in applying for the withdrawal and linkage program should call St. Rita’s Behavioral Access Center at 419-996-5517, or the Coleman/MHRSB Hopeline at 800-567-HOPE. A representative of each institution will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

By John Bush

Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @Bush_Lima.

Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @Bush_Lima.

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