HSHS St. John’s Hospital and the Gateway Foundation are partnering together to create a better response to for hospital patients presenting with substance abuse disorder.
Hospital officials around the state are reporting that more cases of patients presenting in the emergency room or needing continued treatment for the effects of substance abuse.
Dr. Teresa Garate, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Engagement for Gateway says, that hospitals are simply not equipped to deal with the problem: “One of the things that we knew before the pandemic started was that hospitals, in general…not all, but most were very unprepared to support people presenting in their hospital Emergency Rooms or even in their med surge floors with substance use issues and opioid use disorder. That’s because hospitals are also under-resourced and just don’t have the right staff to focus on that. So, this warm hand-off model started way before the pandemic; and then, during the pandemic, the need got even more heightened. I think HSHS saw this as a way to partner with a community-based provider to save people’s lives because of the number of people that were coming into both their emergency rooms as well as their med surge floors suffering from some kind of substance use disorder. They themselves saw that they did not have all the resources and sometimes any expertise to engage people and convince them to go to [substance abuse] treatment.”
The new partnership establishes a team, including a certified addictions counselor, to screen patients who may be in need of addiction treatment and to refer them to appropriate facilities for care using a warm hand off model from the E.R. or med surge floor directly to a substance abuse treatment facility or program.
The model for Gateway is being used in 26 hospitals across the state, with 10 of them within the HSHS system. The work is being funded through the Illinois Department of Human Service by a formula grant based on population.