New pilot project aims to break the cycle of opioid addiction

When a call for emergency response comes in, paramedics often know what to expect when they hear the address: an overdose, likely a repeat overdose.

These are the types of people who could benefit from a pilot project announced by Christiana Care and New Castle County Wednesday.

Known as the Community Substance Overdose Support Program, it is based on an existing program in which overdose patients who require admission to a hospital are contacted by addiction and recovery specialists during their stay.

When a patient is revived by Naloxone but is not hospitalized, that is seen as a gap in treatment.

"Leadership requires that we identify gaps in care. We use the data and information available to us and we use it to fill those gaps - to fill those gaps in ways that save lives," New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer said. 

If a patient consents, he or she will receive home visits by specially trained engagement specialists and access to addiction counseling and resources. Christiana Care's Project Engage has shown success when patients are at a "reachable moment" - still in the hospital setting.

"For those patients who come into the hospital emergency room and do not require hospitalization, very often that's a gap in care," Christiana Care Behavioral Health Corporate Director Erin Booker said. "They go home, and there's no intervention."

Christiana Care is supporting the initiative with a $500,000 commitment.

"We know, through our breakthrough work in Project Engage, that when we reach patients in a reachable moment during a hospitalization, we can help them out of addiction and back into a healthy life," Christiana Care President and CEO Janice Nevin said. "This new partnership will enable us to take this successful model out into the community, to reach more individuals and more families with the help and expertise that they need to break the cycle of addiction."

Reporter - Anchor

Mark Fowser is a veteran journalist in Delaware.