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by Chin Hwa (Gina) Dahlem, PhD, FNP-C, FAANP, Marci Scalera, ACSW, LMSW, and Carol J. Boyd, PhD, RN
Effective interventions for overdose survivors are needed in the emergency departments (EDs). One promising model is the use of peer recovery coaches to engage with survivors in EDs, followed by partnering with community case management navigators to connect survivors to recovery support and treatment services. This paper describes the evaluation of a pilot program, the Recovery Opioid Overdose Team (ROOT), a warm hand-off system that links survivors to treatment services post-ED discharge.
Methods: The ROOT program is composed of a peer recovery coach who is in long-term recovery, and a case management navigator who specializes in mental health care and provides guidance for accessing community services. After an overdose reversal, law enforcement contacts a county 24/7 Crisis Team, who then notifies ROOT. The peer recovery coach engages with the survivor in the ED, and then follow up continues with the case management navigator and the peer recovery coach for up to 90 days post-ED discharge. Retrospective chart reviews were conducted to evaluate ROOT in two Midwest EDs from September 2017 through March 2019.
Results: Of the 122 referrals, 77.0% (n = 94) of the survivors initially engaged with ROOT in the ED or in the community. The remaining 23.0% (n = 28) left the ED against medical advice or were unengaged. The majority of overdose survivors were male (63.9%; n = 78), White (43.4%; n = 53), had housing (80.2%; n = 48), and access to transportation (48.4%; n = 59). From the 122 referrals, 33.6% (n = 41) received ongoing treatment services (n = 20 outpatient, n = 17 residential, n = 2 detoxification facility, n = 1 recovery housing, n = 1 medication treatment for opioid use disorder), 2.5% (n = 3) were incarcerated, 2.5% (n = 3) died, and 61.5% (n = 75) declined services. Conclusions: The ROOT, a community-wide coordinated program in the EDs, shows promise in linking overdose survivors to recovery support and treatment services post-overdose.