Emergency Services looking to help with opioid withdraw

Emergency Services looking to help with opioid withdraw
May 10
09:41 2018

Forsyth County Emergency Services Department is applying for a grant for an innovative, new drug-assisted treatment program for battling opioid addiction.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is on the frontline of the current drug epidemic because of how easy it is to accidentally overdose on opioids. EMS providers constantly respond to overdose calls and administer the drug Narcan to reverse the overdoses. This leaves the user in a withdraw that EMS providers and hospitals can’t treat.

EMS Quality Control Coordinator Tara Tucker said in a county briefing last week on May 3 that the Emergency Services Department, through its Mobile Integrated Health (MIH) Program is applying for a $137,000 grant to purchase a year’s supply of the opioid withdraw drug Buprenorphine, which would be first administered to patients on the scene, and hire a licensed clinical social worker/case manager to link the patients to a Medication-Assisted-Treatment provider so they can continue to receive the drug.

“That has been the most effective treatment for this opioid use that’s the most underutilized,” said Tucker. “No EMS agency has done this that we have been able to find in the county.”

Buprenorphine was approved for clinical use in 2002 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is used in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat opioid addiction. It’s the first medication to treat opioid dependency that can be given outside of a highly structured clinic and can be prescribed or dispensed in a physician’s office, making it more accessible. It also has a lower risk for misuse, dependency and side effects than methadone, a commonly used opioid withdraw drug.

They’re also applying for a $120,000 grant for continued reimbursement for ambulance trips in the hospital diversion program. The program trains paramedics to spot signs of mental illness and has them take those patients to crisis facilities instead of emergency wards. This resulted in a 58 percent diversion rate from emergency rooms for the 290 calls MIH responded to from July 2017 to March 2018. The MIH unit responds to 911 “superusers” like those with mental illness and addiction through assessment, education and connecting them with resources.

Both proposals are being submitted for grant funds from Cardinal Innovations Healthcare’s Community Reinvestment funds.

County and municipal governments, public schools and colleges and well established non-profits from 20 counties can apply for the funds, which will be awarded on June 29. The funds are not part of the money that Forsyth County gives Cardinal for providing local mental health services.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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