Working to Create Recovery-ready Communities
President and CEO, Highpoint Health
Every three years, as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, non-profit hospitals must complete a community health needs assessment. This valuable tool provides us with information about our area’s most serious health concerns. Sadly, substance abuse was identified as the number one health problem not just in Southeast Indiana, but in the entire tristate area.
It Takes a Village
Substance abuse doesn’t just impact the life and family of those suffering from this disorder. It has far-reaching consequences that affect the entire community. So, if we’re to successfully battle this crisis, it’s going to take a multi-pronged approach. That’s why Highpoint Health is collaborating with Mayor Kelly Mollaun and the Dearborn County Community Action Recovery Effort (CARE), led by Brenda (Konradi) Spade. Currently, we’re helping to support the following CARE initiatives: stigma and awareness, screenings for those at risk, peer recovery, recovery hub, and recovery housing.
Decreasing the Stigma of Substance Abuse
Misunderstanding about drug addiction leads to major healthcare problems for individuals and society. Our medical stabilization nurses Lauren Foutty, RN, BSN, and Kendra Whitham, RN, are working with both CARE and Communities Advocating for Substance Abuse Awareness, to get the word out about medical programs that can help those suffering from chemical dependence. They also provide age-appropriate education at local schools, most recently a youth summit this past spring that was attended by 700 eighth graders.
Screening Those at Risk
It’s imperative to focus on early intervention and treatment for those at risk of developing substance abuse problems. After much research, our chief medical officer, Nancy Kennedy, MD, has chosen to implement a screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment screening model at all Highpoint Health primary care physician practices. By asking specific questions, providers can determine if a patient is at risk for a substance abuse problem. If so, the patient is provided with the education, counseling and resources needed to get the appropriate treatment.
Providing Peer Recovery
Often, the first contact Highpoint Health has with someone struggling with substance abuse is an overdose situation. For this reason, we’re hiring a certified peer recovery coach to work in our emergency department. This arrangement was made possible with funding provided by One Community One Family, through a grant with the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction. Providing patients with both immediate and ongoing support – especially from someone who knows firsthand what the patient is going through – establishes trust. This emotional connection is critical for getting a patient to the appropriate resources, including rehabilitation treatment, and avoiding future emergency room visits.
Highpoint Health and the City of Lawrenceburg are currently in the process of converting one of our primary care practice buildings into a recovery hub. A recovery hub is a place where chemical-dependent individuals and their families can go for integrated services such as substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, insurance information, transportation, and more.
Recovery Housing Plans
CARE is currently considering options and ideas to bring more recovery housing to our area. In preparation, nurses Foutty and Whitham have been certified by the Indiana Affiliation of Recovery Residences to conduct surveys on recovery houses. Their knowledge will be instrumental when CARE begins to implement its recovery housing initiative.
Highpoint Health is incredibly proud to support CARE in its mission to make Dearborn County an educated and unified community where individuals and families can safely and easily access reliable services and lasting support towards hope, recovery and meaning in life.