DHHS Partners with NCHA on Pilot Program to Combat the Opioid Crisis

Steve Lawler, President, North Carolina Healthcare Association; Archana Kumar, MD, Medical Director for Cone Health's Behavioral Medicine Service Line; Debbie Cunningham, DNP, RN, President, Women's Hospital and Behavioral Health Services, and Senior Vice President, Cone Health; and Mark Benton, DHHS Deputy Secretary for Health Services at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Attendees at the grant announcement at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center included (L-R) Steve Lawler, President, North Carolina Healthcare Association; Archana Kumar, MD, Medical Director for Cone Health's Behavioral Medicine Service Line; Debbie Cunningham, DNP, RN, President, Women's Hospital and Behavioral Health Services, and Senior Vice President, Cone Health; and Mark Benton, DHHS Deputy Secretary for Health Services. Photo courtesy of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

May 30, 2018 – The NC Department of Health and Human Services and the North Carolina Healthcare Association (NCHA) recently announced grant awards to six North Carolina hospitals and health systems as part of a pilot program to combat the opioid crisis facing our state. 

The awards are part of a $1.37 million grant, funded through DHHS, that will enable participating hospitals to embed certified peer support specialists in their emergency departments to connect patients presenting with opioid overdose to treatment, recovery, and harm reduction supports.

Sites were selected based on applications. They are: 

  • Carolinas Healthcare System Northeast (part of Atrium Health)
  • Cone Health
  • Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center 
  • Southeastern Regional Medical Center
  • UNC Hospital
  • Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

“Certified peer support specialists are a key resource in turning the tide on the opioid crisis in our state,” said DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. “Peer support specialists are instrumental in connecting individuals battling the chronic disease of addiction to support services, including treatment and harm reduction.”

Each participating facility will receive up to $180,000 in reimbursement for the one-year pilot. Hospitals commit to hire a minimum of two certified peer support specialists, each of whom has been in recovery for at least three years, to act as liaisons between the emergency department and the community.

Wake Forest Baptist will work with NCHA to provide technical assistance and training for pilot sites. Grant recipients have been notified and will begin implementation immediately.

“Peer support specialists can make all the difference in a person’s recovery because they share the lived experiences of someone who has struggled with an opioid or substance use issue,” said Mark Benton, DHHS Deputy Secretary for Health Services. “We are honored to partner with NCHA to increase the number of peer support specialists in emergency departments across the state.”

Author: 
Dan Guy