AKRON: Cleveland Clinic Akron General has received a $1 million grant from the Summit County Opiate Abatement Advisory Council to improve the follow-up care provided to patients who are seen with Substance Use Disorder as a primary or secondary health issue in any of the hospital’s four 24-hour emergency departments in Summit County.
Funding for the grant, which will support Akron General’s new Recovery’s in Reach program for one year, comes from a settlement of a federal lawsuit regarding the overuse of opioid medications.
“Our emergency departments often serve as the front door for patients in need of help dealing with addiction issues, and this grant will allow us to improve our response to the continued drug epidemic by changing the trajectory of patients in our community with Substance Use Disorder,” said Steven Brooks, M.D., Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Akron General.
Emergency patients who are identified as needing help with addiction will be matched with a peer recovery coach onsite who will make sure that they get proper long-term supportive care to address their issues. These coaches will be provided through Catholic Charities. The initiative will be accomplished in partnership with BrightView Health, a drug and alcohol treatment center, as well as the Cleveland Clinic Alcohol and Drug Recovery Center and Community Health Center Addiction Services.
“This effort will help fill in the missing piece in helping people with addiction issues get proper follow-up services after an emergency visit,” said Dr. Brooks. “The need is clear: in 2020, 263 visits to one of our emergency departments on the main campus, or the Green, Stow or Bath Health & Wellness Centers, was due to an overdose.”
All patients who have been affected by addiction will be offered help, including at-risk populations, such as the homeless and those with mental illness. Patients seen in Akron General’s PATH Center, which provides care to victims of sexual assault, domestic abuse, human trafficking, elder abuse and neglect, as well as pregnant women will also be referred when Substance Use Disorder is identified.
The program will be directed by Erin Simon, D.O., an emergency medicine physician at Akron General, and Dan Jones, Ph.D., a psychologist in the hospital’s Center for Behavioral Health. Lead Program Coordinator will be Jonathan Sanchez, M.B.A., B.S.N., R.N., who is the nurse manager of Akron General’s main campus emergency department.
“We have seen the opiate crisis in Summit County cripple the health and well-being of our community for many years,” Sanchez said. “With the support of the Summit County Opiate Abatement Advisory Council, we will now be able to provide the proper resources for necessary treatment to help stop the devastation we are seeing in the lives of our community members on a too-frequent basis.”