SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital - Madison, along with Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, Safe Communities and the Wisconsin Medical Society, announced a new program to help opiate addicts who experience a medical emergency as a result of an overdose.
The pilot project is modeled after a successful program in Rhode Island, where treatment experts are intervening with overdose patients in emergency rooms shortly after their medical conditions are stabilized. Parisi included $15,000 in his budget for next year to match dollars from the Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation to pilot the program, which will be run by Safe Communities. The pilot starts in the Emergency Department at SSM Health St. Mary's November 1, 2017.
“We are seeing more and more of our neighbors struggle with addiction,” said Parisi. “Alcohol and drug treatment programs are available through the County but alone will not solve the problem. We must be sure to take full advantage of opportunities to guide those burdened by addiction to the help they need. Thank you to our community partners, SSM Health St. Mary’s, Safe Communities and the Wisconsin Medical Foundation for stepping up to address this public health crisis.”
Through the first seven months of this year, the Madison Fire Department responded to 288 calls for suspected heroin and opiate overdoses. That was two-and-a-half times greater than the same number of those incidents reported through July of 2015. In the six weeks leading up to the introduction of the budget, there were 60 overdose calls across Dane County. That’s an average of ten per week. Here and across the country, heroin and opiate abuse is a public health and public safety crisis of critical proportion.
“In 2015, we saw approximately 180 opioid overdose patients in our Emergency Department at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital - Madison,” said ED physician Dr. Kyle Martin. “Many of those who overdose are suffering from addiction and may not have the proper support system to help them. We know something needs to be done to address this current drug overdose epidemic, which is why we are proud to be partnering on this pilot project.”
As part of the program, we anticipate we may work with 75 or more overdose victims in our emergency department. The program will have recovery coaches on call throughout the weekends from 8 pm Friday through 8 am Monday. Weekends have been identified as the time when frequent overdoses occur. The project will be evaluated on how many overdose victims were helped and how many remain in recovery.
“Addressing the rise in opioid abuse through proper prescribing and access to treatment is a priority of physician members of the Wisconsin Medical Society and a funding priority for the Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation’s grant program,” said Eileen Wilson, Executive Director, Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation. “The Foundation is proud to partner with Safe Communities Madison and Dane County on this innovative program with the hope that it may serve as a model for other communities facing similar increases in opioid related deaths.”
(Photo caption: Dane County Executive Joe Parisi speaks regarding our new partnership to help those who come to our SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital - Madison Emergency Department as a result of an opiate overdose.)