Tuesday, September 23, 2014


This post is in reference to:
Our Maryland Governor has finally recognized that we have a problem –and he has written the letter below “For Immediate Release”.

He has a plan for solving the problem.  Here are the elements of his new plan:

1)  Convene yet another task force to analyze data, share data between agencies and then analyze it some more, and write yet more reports on the analysis of the data.  (I guess the already existing task forces and already written reports have just not done enough to stop overdose deaths).  Somehow the flurry of people meeting and generating paper never seems to translate into more treatment beds or halfway houses or recovery services.  Here is the Executive Order creating the NEW task force:  http://www.governor.maryland.gov/executiveorders/01.01.2014.12.pdf

2)  He has declared it a “Maryland Strategic Goal” to reduce overdose deaths by 20% by 2015:  https://data.maryland.gov/goal-dashboard  This is commendable now that Maryland has recorded 858 overdose fatalities in 2013, a 7.4% increase over the 799 O.D. fatalities in 2012.  It’s about time!

3)  Printed a whole lot of posters and brochures that urge parents to call 2-1-1 for treatment locator resources. Here is the link to check out the posters:  http://adaa.dhmh.maryland.gov/OVERDOSE_PREVENTION/SitePages/Education%20Campaign.aspx

According to DHMH Secretary, Josh Sharfstein, “Calling 2-1-1 is the most effective way to learn more about treatment resources in your community.”

So, I decided to test the 2-1-1 service.  I told the operator that I was a parent in Montgomery County with a 21 year old son addicted to heroin who says he needs detox.  That was all the information I gave.  At first I was impressed because the 211 operator did ask me if my son was willing to go inpatient, and I said “yes”.  She did not ask what insurance I had, or even if I had insurance. 

She presumably she gave me a list of inpatient opiate detox facilities.  As a result of my efforts, I received 9 possible resources for the entire state of Maryland.

I then called to verify that the 2-1-1 operator gave out accurate information.  Actually, I already knew that most of the information was inaccurate, but I called just to confirm:

1)  Avery Road:  Yes they do opiate detox
2)  Suburban Hospital:  NO OPIATE DETOX
3)  Seton House:  Yes opiate detox, only w/ private insurance and not MD Medicaid.  Located in N.E. D.C. –so if you have insurance you would go somewhere else.
4)  Baltimore Station:  NO OPIATE DETOX (their rep was kind enough to give me another inaccurate referral to ANY HOSPITAL in Maryland –not a reality!)
5)  Salvation Army:  NO OPIATE DETOX, they are a Christian based halfway house program
6)  Jude House:  NO DETOX,  (their rep was kind enough to give me more inaccurate information a referral to Walden –they don’t accept people from MoCo)
7)  Father Martin’s Ashley:  did not take my son’s Medicaid insurance.  Also, even if you have premium insurance, you will still have a hefty co-pay of about $7000!
8)  Hudson Health Services:  Yes, located in Salisbury
9)  Sinai Hospital:  NO OPIATE DETOX

Only 2 out of 9 referrals would have worked for me and one of them is 3 hours away. 
5 of them do not even provide the services I asked for!!!!! 

The 2-1-1 operator DID NOT mention any of the dozen or so other detox facilities around the state, most of which I could have gotten a person into with MD Medicaid, which unpaid untrained volunteers like myself commonly refer people into all the time.

4)  And last, but not least, a DHMH FaceBook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Substance-Use-Disorders-in-Maryland/691761057548436?ref=br_  so that people can “share stories from residents across the state who are dealing with addiction”.

Perhaps if we all share our stories about how poor our system of care is, how enormously difficult it is to get high quality, affordable, accessible treatment, perhaps the Governor will read the posts and consider replacing the treatment budget that he cut last year and increasing the number of treatment facilities so that everyone who is seeking treatment receives it before they overdose.

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