St. Rita’s expands alcohol abuse treatment


By Mackenzi Klemann - mklemann@limanews.com



Dr. Robert Wheeler discusses the MAT Outpatient Center at St. Rita’s Medical Center.

Dr. Robert Wheeler discusses the MAT Outpatient Center at St. Rita’s Medical Center.


Mackenzi Klemann | The Lima News

Wright State to train rural health professionals to screen for addiction

Wright State University wants to train health professionals in western Ohio in an addiction screening method commonly used in larger communities.

The Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment method has been in use for several decades, but it’s less common in rural communities where doctors are more likely to interact with patients outside their practice, according to Paul Hershberger, Ph.D., and Lori Martensen, M.S., the principal investigators for Wright State’s Western Ohio SBIRT project, which covers 14 counties in the region.

The program intends to train some 250 health care professionals in the region in the SBIRT model.

“This involves doing routine and universal screening of adolescents and adults for alcohol and drug use, having a targeted conversation with those using a substance in a risky or harmful manner, and referring those with more severe substance misuse or addiction to specialized treatment,” Hershberger said.

The SBIRT model looks at substance misuse on a spectrum that ranges from risky to harmful to serious and dependent, Hershberger said.

“The idea is to find out where on this continuum of use is the patient.”

LIMA — St. Rita’s Medical Center will now treat alcohol withdrawal at its inpatient detoxification center, which already serves patients undergoing withdrawal from opioids and benzodiazepines.

“Alcohol withdrawal is a medical condition,” said Dr. Rusheeth Thummalapally, who works in St. Rita’s detoxification center. In severe cases, Thummalapally said alcohol withdrawal may be fatal.

But patients who were experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms were “being sent to detox facilities outside the community,” according to Susan Hawk, MSPCCS, LSW, behavioral health chief of clinical integration for Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center.

St. Rita’s will also have a single phone number connecting patients and families to all addiction-related services, including the detox center and the medication-assisted treatment outpatient program, founded last August.

Medication-assisted treatment relies on a combination of medication, like Naltrexone or Vivitrol, and behavioral therapies to treat addiction.

“We believe this is a chronic disease,” Dr. Robert Wheeler, an internal medical practitioner with the MAT Center, told a crowd who met at St. Rita’s on Friday to learn more about the program. “It’s not a patient choice. We treat these patients as chronic patients. We believe in treatment versus punishment; compassion versus condemnation; empathy versus blame.”

The new services were mentioned during a broader discussion on addiction treatment options held at St. Rita’s on Friday. The hospital has seen a large decrease in the number of opioid overdose visits to the emergency department in the past three years. According to statistics offered by Hawk, the St. Rita’s Emergency Department saw 167 patients on opioid overdose calls in 2018, down from 444 in 2017 and 400 in 2016. She credited increased awareness and access to care in the region as well as greater availability of overdose reversal drug Narcan.

The St. Rita’s addiction services hotline is 833-347-5544.

Dr. Robert Wheeler discusses the MAT Outpatient Center at St. Rita’s Medical Center.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/01/web1_crop.jpgDr. Robert Wheeler discusses the MAT Outpatient Center at St. Rita’s Medical Center. Mackenzi Klemann | The Lima News

By Mackenzi Klemann

mklemann@limanews.com

Wright State to train rural health professionals to screen for addiction

Wright State University wants to train health professionals in western Ohio in an addiction screening method commonly used in larger communities.

The Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment method has been in use for several decades, but it’s less common in rural communities where doctors are more likely to interact with patients outside their practice, according to Paul Hershberger, Ph.D., and Lori Martensen, M.S., the principal investigators for Wright State’s Western Ohio SBIRT project, which covers 14 counties in the region.

The program intends to train some 250 health care professionals in the region in the SBIRT model.

“This involves doing routine and universal screening of adolescents and adults for alcohol and drug use, having a targeted conversation with those using a substance in a risky or harmful manner, and referring those with more severe substance misuse or addiction to specialized treatment,” Hershberger said.

The SBIRT model looks at substance misuse on a spectrum that ranges from risky to harmful to serious and dependent, Hershberger said.

“The idea is to find out where on this continuum of use is the patient.”

Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.

Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.

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