As Virginia continues to battle the opioid overdose epidemic, Dr. Cheri Hartman at Carilion Hospital in Roanoke is developing a Linkages of Care program designed to get patients suffering from addiction connected to the resources they need, right when they need them.
What is the Linkages of Care program at Carilion Hospital and why is it so important?
Dr. Hartman: We have developed a bridge to treatment which offers critical linkages of care directly from the emergency department of a local hospital. If a patient presents to the emergency department having survived an overdose, or is in a state of withdrawal from a drug, the program is designed to implement rapid access to care. This patient is obviously suffering in some stage of the disease of addiction and needs immediate help. The program allows for quick access to treatment options and it’s something we need to make both patients and their families aware of.
What kind of treatment options do you mean?
Dr. Hartman: The Linkages to Care is intended to provide access as quickly as possible to treatment services for persons suffering an opioid use disorder. A patient might present with an immediate acute problem in the ED and may believe that overdosing, getting help at the ED, is where the treatment ends and they go back to what they are doing, continuing to use. But because of the Linkages of Care bridging, we can take advantage of this moment when they are feeling low and vulnerable to link them up to treatment for the long-term and help them discover the path to recovery for lifelong help.
Was Linkages of Care piloted at Carilion Hospital and now you are reaching out to implement the program in other Virginia hospitals?
Dr. Hartman: Yes, what we are doing at Carilion is not really that unique, in that other hospitals should be able to provide similar care. There are protocols that have been developed and are tried and true and put into place around the country. We are benefitting from the lessons learned in other communities. For example, Yale University’s Gail D’Onofrio is a national leader on this. Mass General has actually trained us directly on what kinds of protocols are helpful to have in place in the ED when a patient presents with a symptom of opioid use disorder.
What is one thing you would like to emphasize about the Linkages of Care program?
Dr. Hartman: With some very low cost interventions, and taking advantage of your current capacity and the compassionate care providers you have, you will find it very rewarding to implement a similar program like we have here at Carilion.
To learn more about implementing the Linkages of Care program in your ED, contact: