THRIVING Through COVID-19

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UH patients who struggle with substance abuse do not have to struggle alone

UH Clinical Update | June 2020

It's not every day you hear the words “thriving" and “COVID-19" together in one sentence, but thanks to incredible perseverance UH launched the THRIVE ED program at UH Parma Medical Center. Made possible by a grant from the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board that is receiving Cuyahoga County funding from opioid settlements, the THRIVE ED program provides support for patients with substance use disorder (SUD) who come to the emergency department seeking help.

“Traditionally, emergency department treatments and the long term management of substance use disorders have been largely separated, and patients with addiction often have to establish follow up treatment after they are discharged," explained Ryan Marino, MD, a UH emergency medicine physician who specializes in care for those with SUD. “This standard practice leaves vulnerability to numerous complications like inability to establish follow up, periods of untreated withdrawal, recurrent use, and even avoidance of the medical system."

What makes the THRIVE ED program so effective stems from the fact that the patient is immediately connected to a “peer supporter" if they wish who helps them get the rehab care needed. “These peer supporters have also previously struggled with SUD themselves, so they can relate on a very personal level to what the patient is experiencing," said Jeanne Lackamp, MD, Director of the UH Pain Management Institute and leader of UH's response to the opioid epidemic. “We were ready to launch this program in March but then COVID-19 hit and we had to look for an alternative approach because visitor restrictions prevented the peer supporters from entering the ED. Through amazing collaboration from multiple UH departments and the team from THRIVE, we were able to implement the program virtually using a telehealth model."

UH Parma ED Manager, Kristin Petro, connects with a THRIVE counselor, Milton Greene IIIUH Parma ED Manager, Kristin Petro, connects with a THRIVE counselor, Milton Greene III

Having the ability to link emergency department patients to a peer navigator who can facilitate and follow their recovery journey provides both the support to begin the process and ensures that the next step is in place before discharge. “This is just one more example of the comprehensive and compassionate care UH provides all of its patients," Lackamp continued. “Intercepting the patients when they arrive at the ED and providing resources to help them take that step toward recovery greatly improves their chances for success."

Plans are also underway to roll out the THRIVE ED program within the next month at UH Cleveland Medical Center and eventually to the other UH emergency departments within Cuyahoga County.

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