Indiana University Health has opened a hub to provide virtual addiction recovery coaching to its hospitals around the state. The first hospital to use the new service is IU Health Frankfort Hospital in Clinton County.
The Indianapolis hub, staffed with peer recovery coaches, is open around-the-clock to serve the growing number of emergency room patients needing help with opioid abuse and other substance addictions. The virtual service aids IU Health’s smaller hospitals, starting in Frankfort, that lack the in-house behavioral health expertise found in most larger urban hospitals.
“Our clinicians in the emergency department are excited to see this innovative approach to helping with the addiction problems this state is facing,” said Cherri Hobgood, MD, FACEP, an IU Health emergency medicine physician and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine.
New care model
The hub is part of IU Health’s response to a growing need for behavioral health services, including opioid addiction, across Indiana.
“Peer recovery coaches provide a lifeline of hope to those suffering Substance Use Disorder (SUD),” said Stephanie Berry, director of behavioral health at IU Health. “By offering access to recovery coaching services virtually, hope can be available 24-7 for patients with SUD at any of our IU Health hospitals.”
Patients will be assessed when they come into an IU Health emergency department as someone at high risk for, or struggling with, a substance use disorder. ED personnel will connect patients with the recovery coaches who communicate live via video hookups.
The use of recovery coaches—all of whom are IU Health employees in active recovery from addiction—has proven effective in behavioral health treatment. The coaches aren’t meant to take the place of AA sponsors, counselors or accountability partners, but serve as a stepping stone by providing patients with resources to move them toward recovery.
“I have experienced life as a person in active addiction and now am living in long-term recovery,” said Sarah Stillerman, a recovery coach working in the new hub. “It’s important that our patients know that. We’re here to remove barriers, provide hope, and help them find a pathway to recovery.”
Expansion of services
Support does not end when the patient leaves the hospital. Recovery coaches follow up with their patients within 48 hours of initial contact and continue to provide additional resources as needed.
IU Health plans to expand the hub’s services across its 16-hospital system over the coming months while also adding psychiatrists at the hub to supplement the peer recovery coaches and provide deeper levels of care for behavioral health patients.