Addressing Opioid Addiction “Close to Home”
By: Leah Hollenberger
As you have likely heard in the news, Vermont is struggling with an opioid addiction epidemic. Unfortunately, there isn’t just one solution to successfully addressing opioid addiction. It takes individuals and organizations working together to address this complex issue. This team-based approach includes our Medical Staff, clinicians, and collaboration with community resources.
Our providers routinely discuss pain management 1:1 with patients. This includes verbal conversation and print materials outlining options, risks, strategies for pain management, and potential side effects. Providers utilize the Vermont Prescription Monitoring System (VPMS) and the Medical Staff, as a group, continue to discuss the issue and how best to address it.
Within our Emergency Department, providers limit opioid prescriptions, with the goal to get the patient to go to a recommended follow up appointment with their primary care physician. Typically, enough pain medication is prescribed to last less than a day; longer if the patient is seen on a weekend to allow them time to get a follow up appointment.
Our clinicians also refer patients to Lamoille County Mental Health’s Alcohol and Substance Awareness Program (ASAP), the area’s Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) program, and North Central Vermont Recovery Center.
The Women’s Center and the Birthing Center are active with “Close to Home,” a Blueprint for Health program in collaboration with the area’s Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) program. “Close to Home” provides high quality, low intervention prenatal, obstetric, newborn, and post-partum care at a local level. It is for mothers-to-be already stable in a medication assisted treatment program. Weekly and quarterly reviews ensure these patients get connected to available resources and the participants meet with anesthesia and pediatric providers prior to birth for education on the program. Newborns of women in this program are required to stay at the hospital for 96 hours as it can take 24-48 hours for symptoms of withdrawal to show up. The Women’s Center and Copley’s Birthing Center also refer patients to the Lamoille Family Center’s Rocking Horse program for families living with substance abuse.
Copley’s Patient and Family Services team routinely work with patients and their families to connect them with a variety of social services. We are collaborating with the Blueprint’s Community Health Team at Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley to add a case worker in our Emergency Department. The hospital also promotes drug safety and awareness in publications and through this blog. Check out an earlier post, “Expect Some Pain,” for suggestions you can use to talk candidly with your physician about pain medication and pain management.
Leah Hollenberger is the Vice President of Marketing, Development, and Community Relations for Copley Hospital. A former award-winning TV and Radio producer, she is the mother of two and lives in Morrisville. Her free time is spent volunteering, cooking, playing outdoors, and producing textile arts. Leah writes about community events, preventive care, and assorted ideas to help one make healthy choices.