Midstate county hires staff to help people find drug treatment
Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | 11.14.16
Photo by AP Photo/John Minchillo
An addict, center, is attended to by emergency service workers after calling in for help after using, as heroin awareness and advocacy groups in Cincinnati rally on the steps of the Hamilton County Justice Center, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Cincinnati.
(Harrisburg) -- Experts and first-responders have long complained there is often little follow-up treatment for people who have overdosed on drugs.
Now, one midstate county is filling in the gap.
Dauphin County is training two staff members to provide what is known as a "warm handoff".
When someone overdoses on drugs - including alcohol - and gets treated in the emergency room, a counselor will meet them there and provide help for finding a bed in a detox facility.
It's a critical step in addressing the overdose crisis that has killed more than 5,000 Pennsylvanians in the past two years.
"I think this is a very good, medically sound way to make sure that they're at least being seen by a medical professional in the hospital setting and able to engage with them if they're willing," says Cheryl Dondero, director of Dauphin County Drug and Alcohol Services.
Dondero says after the person gets detox, the same Dauphin County staff member will be ready to help them find intensive outpatient or inpatient care.
"That person that is in treatment having one steady contact at a place that they know, being their be all end all contact for anything they need through all of the stages of treatment is really what's going to make the difference in that person staying engaged in treatment," she adds.
Dondero expects that once training is complete next month, two caseworkers and a supervisor will be able to provide near constant coverage.
Published in PA Policy