SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER TREATMENT / REFERRAL AT ALL MARYLAND HOSPITALS
Imagine going to the hospital with symptoms of cardiac arrest, or diabetic shock, or even thoughts of suicide –and being told that you are not sick enough to be admitted –And you must not return for medical treatment unless you are unconscious! Unthinkable …right?
BUT, Closed Doors are exactly what patients with life-threatening symptoms of chronic opioid use disorder and other life-threatening substance dependencies face!
UNTREATED ADDICTION is not just a problem for the addict. It is a problem for every tax-paying citizen in Maryland. Every Maryland tax-payer deserves a better return on their financial investment!
ADVANTAGES OF TREATMENT ON DEMAND –AT ANY MARYLAND HOSPITAL
Studies have shown that the key element for success is TREATMENT ON DEMAND! The addict must be able to immediately enter a program when the opportunity presents itself. We need to utilize one resource that has been overlooked in our treatment approach:
OUR COMMUNITY HOSPITALS!
1) These hospitals already take care of every problem an addict might have except the addiction itself.
2) Community hospitals could provide treatment on demand. They are open 24 hours a day, are secure, safe -- often with a police presence -- and are near public transportation.
3) They have the range of personnel -- from physicians and nurses to social workers -- to deal with the myriad physical and mental challenges addicts present.
4) Fiscal systems of accountability are already in place at hospitals, as are regulatory systems and quality-of-care review.
5) Most hospitals have space available, and putting addiction programs there would avoid the "not-in-my-backyard" problems often faced by new drug treatment centers.
6) Substance users all end up in ER's sooner or later for a wide variety of problems. Since they are at hospitals that are open 24/7, have safety security, and are highly monitored, hospitals ought to take care of these patients in the moment with access to drug counselors.
7) Right now, all patients receive upon discharge, is a list of referrals (which is not what's done for patients with heart attacks or appendicitis, who get immediate comprehensive care).
8) The hospital financing system, which connects to community health, means that it ought to be to the financial advantage of hospitals to develop systems of "warm hand-offs".
9) There are logistic problems, but once hospitals start to take more complete responsibility for these patients, these can be addressed.
10) To treat these patients who have a life-threatening often fatal disorder, is simply the right, moral, ethical, humane, and compassionate thing to do.
So why don't hospitals already treat addiction?
Therefore, let's add these hospitals to the addiction care system and have them work in concert with the other programs and community efforts that are available. We've been paying the price of drug addiction for a long time: in wasted lives, shattered families, the spread of AIDS and other diseases, and the constant impact of crime and violence on our streets.
It is high time that Marylanders demand a better system of care for all citizens and a better return on their tax dollars!