CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — About four people in Virginia and more than 130 across the country are dying every day from an opioid overdose.
Chesapeake Regional Medical Center is changing the way it treats people in crisis who come to the emergency room. It’s a new program is called PROUD, Prevention and Recovery from Opioid Use Disorder.
Doctors say typically when someone overdoses and goes to a hospital, their treatment would begin and end in the ER.
“We revive them from an overdose and then essentially we put them back out on the streets and tell them good luck,“ said Dr. Ben Fickenscher, Emergency Physician for Chesapeake Regional Healthcare.
Fickenscher created the new program with CRH’s Director of Behavioral Health Services, Kurtis Hooks. They say it’s unique to Hampton Roads and only the second in Virginia.
It will treat patients in the emergency department with Suboxone — a drug that doctors say offers both pain control and addiction control. CRH will then guarantee patients an intake at one of four area addiction treatment centers: Chesapeake Integrated Behavioral Healthcare, Tidwater Psychotherapy Services, Behavioral Health Group, and GHR Center for Addiction and Recovery.
Fickenscher says that combination will include key follow-up steps including “medication-assisted treatment as well as group counseling, psychosocial counseling, those other components that form the holistic base for the management of ongoing addiction.“
“We’re gonna educate them and give them options, and give them an opportunity to select an option which is most realistic for them,“ Hooks said, calling the new approach more consumer-oriented.
The program also aims to treat addiction on par with other physical conditions, in order to reduce the stigma that surrounds it.
“We have traditionally viewed (opioid addiction) as a moral failing or a lack of willpower, blaming the victim of that chronic disease.“
Chesapeake Regional Healthcare says reducing stigma is very important, because that alone will encourage people in crisis to seek help before it’s too late.