MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses. The number of opioid-related deaths in Ohio skyrocketed from 296 in 2003 to 2,590 in 2015, according to the Ohio Department of Health, an 875 percent jump over a 13-year period.
Southwest General Health Center opened BreakThru, a medically supervised inpatient substance abuse withdrawal management service at its Middleburg Heights campus, on April 17; the first patient arrived on April 19.
“The crushing impact of heroin and other opiate abuse in Ohio has been well documented. Offering this solution helps members of our community fight back and restore their lives,” said Michael Waggoner, director of Behavioral Health Services at Southwest General. “Ohio is No. 1 for pretty much every opioid statistic out there. We have been No. 1 since 2014 when we passed California, even though they have four times the amount of residents that our state does. This area is very hard hit.”
The only program of its kind in northeast Ohio, BreakThru addresses the distinct needs of patients seeking help to take the first step in recovery of substance abuse in a safe, comfortable and confidential hospital environment while preserving patient dignity.
BreakThru medically manages symptoms, ranging from anxiety and pain, to more serious and even life-threatening conditions. The program also manages clients with other medical conditions, such as hypertension, d iabetes and COPD.
“Most of the patients are going to be self referred, recognizing that they need help. Our staff pre-screens them over the phone. They have to meet certain criteria to qualify for the care itself,” said Waggoner. “Patients could also come in through the ER. If someone came through the ER seeking help we would typically discharge that person and loop them back through BreakThru the next day.”
Patient cases are reviewed by a BreakThru staff member for medical necessity, severity of withdrawal and benefits of treatment. Patients come to the hospital by scheduled appointment for direct admission. The average length of stay is three days. The service further assists patients in transitioning to the next phase of recovery after discharge.
Continuum care managers assist patients in coordinating care and support upon their release from the inpatient program.
“Working with the community-based providers is an important part of our mission to help patients remain on the road to recovery,” said Robin Caldwell, outreach continuum of care manager.
The program’s long-term success will be based on readmission numbers and relapse rates, according to Waggoner.
Access to BreakThru services is available by calling 440-816-HOPE (4673). The office at Southwest General’s Main Campus is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.