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Regional health officials meet to discuss standardized care for opioid addiction

Delaware Public Media

There is currently no standard for care when treating people suffering from an addiction to opioids. But some treatment programs at Christiana Care Health System are receiving national attention for their effectiveness.

Health officials from across the Mid-Atlantic visited Delaware Tuesday to discuss best practices and work towards a standard. Those included doctors from West Virginia—the state most affected by the opioid epidemic.

Bob Hansen is Director of Addiction Services at Marshall Health in West Virginia. He says Marshall Health plans to adopt Christiana Care’s Project Engage—a model in which doctors connect patients with peer counsellors who are further along in the recovery process.

“It’s the simple issue of reaching out to people with substance use disorders when they’re in an inpatient facility. People haven’t done that in the past sometimes substance use disorders are ignored,” said Hansen.

Christiana Care’s Chief of Addiction Medicine, Terry Horton M.D., founded Project Engage in 2008. He calls it a step towards standardized care for opiate addiction.

“People in recovery working in a health system to help others who are suffering from the disease of addiction is a terrific standard of care,” said Horton. “One that helps, all of us really, move away from the stigma of addiction and understand that this is yet another medical problem that we have to address.”

Christiana Care has also made strides to integrate behavioral health with primary care. This includes a questionnaire issued to all people admitted to the emergency room to help determine if they are addicted to opioids.

If a patient is confirmed to be at risk for opioid withdrawal, there is outlined pathway of treatment physicians at Christiana Care can reference.

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