Showing Our True Colors in Tackling Opioid Addiction
Drug addiction, particularly opioid addiction, is a nationwide issue — one Delaware is far too familiar with. The state has the fifth-highest overdose rate per capita in the nation. A 2017 Division of Public Health Drug Overdose Mortality Report showed that of the 346 deaths in Delaware caused by drug overdose in 2017, 84 percent were caused by opioid abuse. Moreover, 81 percent interacted with a Delaware health system in the year before their deaths. This is why Bayhealth has joined the fight against substance abuse disorders by participating in statewide initiatives as well as making changes in-house to better help patients.
BAYHEALTH GOES PURPLE
For the second year in a row, Bayhealth is participating in Delaware Goes Purple, a drug-free awareness campaign initiated by Sussex County Health Coalition. What began in the city of Seaford has grown into a statewide effort to raise awareness and reduce the stigma around addiction. Bayhealth held a “Step Out for Substance Abuse” event in October, where team members joined together to walk and show support for the cause.
Bayhealth Hospital, Kent Campus Lead Chaplain Rev. Carol Harris (pictured left) is the chair for Kent County Goes Purple. She got involved in the awareness program because of her role as the coordinator for Vines Community Project, a Kent County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition. “Delaware Goes Purple gives leaders across the state a chance to collaborate and unite in the fight against drug abuse. We’re demonstrating on a state and national level how an entire state can come together when we’re threatened by something such as substance abuse,” Rev. Harris said. “I’m proud to work for an organization that is such a major supporter of an important initiative. I believe Bayhealth and the state are moving in the right direction to not only help patients with substance abuse disorders but to prevent addiction.”
MAKING CHANGES FOR PREVENTION
While Rev. Harris is busy raising awareness with Delaware Goes Purple, other Bayhealth team members have spent the past year searching for ways the organization can reduce opioid prescriptions to patients and connect patients with recovery resources.
A change to how opioids are prescribed has resulted in a 50 percent reduction in opioid prescribing. Peer recovery specialists, who have experience with substance abuse, are embedded in the Bayhealth Emergency and Trauma Center (ED), Kent Campus to help connect patients with treatment centers. In the first five months, 294 patients were engaged in conversations, with 117 agreeing to treatment. Before this, very few patients entered treatment directly from the ED. Bayhealth is working to increase access to medications that treat overdoses and addictions, and update policies regarding opioids.
“We are building a system of care in the federal, state and local community to not only treat patients with opioid issues but prevent addiction in the first place,” said Bayhealth Vice President and Chief Medical Information Officer Jonathan Kaufmann, DO (pictured right). He is chair of Bayhealth’s Opioid Oversight Task Force. “Opioid addiction affects people from all walks of life. The stigma surrounding substance abuse is unjustified. Substance abuse disorders are diseases like many of those we treat on a daily basis. We need to care for, and support, this population of patients just as we do with patients suffering from diabetes or heart disease.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or mental health issues, help is available. Visit HelpIsHereDE.com for more information.