LORAIN, Ohio -- It’s a moment of crisis.
After an overdose, a patient has a choice: Go back to the same destructive cycle or get help.
“This is the point of death for someone,” explains Christine Robinson, the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board of Lorain County’s Director of Program Services. “They’ve been given a chance at life, what a better moment to offer them a chance of recovery and a better life.”
That idea sparked the Warm Handoff program that began August 1 in Mercy Regional Medical Center’s emergency room in Lorain. Robinson says it’s modeled after a similar program in Rhode Island, and they believe this is the first one like it in the state of Ohio.
“When we discharge them we give them contact information for follow up for treatment centers, but because of demand on the system frequently its weeks before they can get in,” says Medical Director, Dr. Gilbert Palmer. “It’s not unlikely and it’s not really uncommon for you to go on with your habit or to suffer another overdose again. This partnership with Let’s Get Real allows me to connect my patient with a peer supporter right away.”
Let’s Get Real is a recovery community non-profit organization in Lorain County that will bring in certified peer recovery supporters within two hours of hospital representatives notifying them about a patient who wants help.
“Often times when someone’s had an overdose or near overdose or is screaming for help, the resounding statements are made ‘You don’t know what I’m going through’,” says the organization's Executive Director, Kim Eberle. “We can say we kind of do, we’ve been there and we know the journey you are about to take and we know how scary it is.”
The hope is if this pilot program goes well it will expand in the future.