Doylestown , PA - The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) alongside Independence Blue Cross Foundation (IBX) and Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission, Inc. (BCDAC, Inc.) today announced DDAP will provide BCDAC, Inc. with $650,000 in grant funding to improve care for survivors of an opioid overdose in Bucks County, PA.
In a 2017, IBX completed a study that examined emergency department warm hand-off programs and procedures. DDAP’s funding will implement several best practices identified in the study including funding additional Certified Recovery Specialists (CRS) in all six local hospitals, as well as providing family support and hospital staff education by health care professionals who are in long-term recovery. DDAP’s funding is part of the $55.9 million Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Association grant awarded to the commonwealth to bolster the state’s response to the opioid epidemic.
“Over the past year thousands of lives have been saved through warm hand-off programs,” said Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jennifer Smith. “We know this is a key component in strengthening the drug and alcohol landscape throughout Pennsylvania and the Administration is committed to helping counties with its implementation. Additionally, the common denominator for many individual’s seeking treatment are CRSs. They are an invaluable asset to our field and we want to support their work whenever and however possible.”
To further efforts, IBX will be commissioning a second study that will re-evaluate the county’s warm hand-off program, track outcomes, and provide further recommendations slated to begin in September 2019.
“This study, and the one that will follow, are important benchmarks for measuring the success of what is one of the most critical pieces of the recovery process — getting someone into substance use treatment as quickly as possible,” said Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation. “We’re excited that this research was a valuable tool in providing additional resources for Bucks County, and for broader discussions across the state focused on combatting the growing opioid epidemic.”
Today, warm hand-off programs at various levels of implementation exist around the commonwealth. Since January 2017, more than 5,000 individuals have been directly referred to treatment as part of the warm hand-off concept. Counties with successful implementations are seeing a success rate of 90 percent of overdose survivors directly admitted into drug and alcohol treatment following an overdose.
In February 2017, the departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and Health, and Pennsylvania chapter of the College of Emergency Physicians released a clinical pathway designed to create an easy transition from care for an opioid overdose to treatment for an opioid use disorder. As part of an update in the 2015-2020 grant agreement between DDAP and local Single County Authorities (SCA), SCAs are now required to establish a warm hand-off policy locally.
For more information about the work the Wolf Administration is doing to combat the opioid crisis, visit pa.gov/opioids.