November 10, 2019

AdventHealth Partners to Open First-of-Its-Kind Center to Fight Opioids

AdventHealth, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, Seminole County Emergency Medical Services/Fire Rescue and the Board of County Commissioners in Florida, United States, are launching a unique partnership to combat the opioid epidemic.

A key element of the partnership is a new addictions recovery center in Sanford that will provide clinically supported residential substance abuse treatment when it opens in early 2020. It is the first time in Florida that a health-care system and law enforcement are coming together to open such a facility.

“Unfortunately, people with opioid issues have been trapped in a cycle of ‘catch, treat, release,’” said Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma during the official announcement on October 24, 2019. “This partnership and a new model for using medically based treatment to help those with substance abuse disorders will help us break that cycle. Expanding addiction treatment in the region will not only ensure people receive needed care and support after they leave the hospital, but it will also set them up for success after.”

When fully operational, the addictions recovery center will eventually house up to 40 men and 10 women and will provide up to 30 days of overnight care. In addition to mental health and medication-assisted treatment, patients will be supported with services that address their educational, vocational, behavioral, and housing needs upon discharge. Clients could be referred directly from AdventHealth, the jail, or from the community. 

Conditions in Central Florida reflect the opioid crisis that has spread across the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 47,000 deaths involving opioids were reported in 2017, a 45-percent increase from 2016. And according to the Sheriff’s Office, about 650 people in Seminole County overdosed on opioids, and 82 of them died, in 2018 — a 32-percent jump in deaths from two years earlier.

At AdventHealth Altamonte Springs, Florida, clinicians treated more than 100 substance-abuse patients in September alone. Across the AdventHealth system in the tri-county area, clinicians see about 17 opioid-abuse patients each day, up from 14 per day as recently as 2018. 

Under the new partnership, a substance abuse coordinator will be based out of the AdventHealth Altamonte Springs Emergency Room to help navigate care for patients who need addictions treatment. The coordinator will track patients during their inpatient stay at the hospital, and then for 30 days after discharge, to ensure they are successfully connected with the appropriate treatment and community resources. 

Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office is giving opioid-abuse training and education to Emergency Room staff at AdventHealth Altamonte Springs. As a result of that specialty training, first responders will bring opioid-abuse patients to the hospital for care, if appropriate, so that they can access these additional services.  

“AdventHealth is committed to whole-person health — caring for the body, mind, and spirit. Substance abuse disorders need to be viewed and treated as vigorously as we do other areas of medicine, like diabetes or heart disease,” said Tim Cook, CEO of AdventHealth Altamonte Springs. “This partnership allows us to bring together resources and expertise from the public and private sectors, and we are honored to work with our partners in Seminole County to bring healing to our neighbors.”

The partnership and services provided are expected to grow in the future. 

“As a community, we need dedicated individuals who understand addiction,” said Todd Husty, Seminole County’s Emergency Medical Services director. “We would never stop giving insulin to a diabetic patient because they ate ice cream. We need to view treatment for substance abuse the same way, and this partnership helps us do that for patients in Seminole County.”

The original version of this story was posted on the AdventHealth news site.

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