MetroHealth, Working With Cuyahoga County, Will Expand Opioid Treatment Teams to Serve City of Cleveland
Cleveland - MetroHealth, working in partnership with Cuyahoga County, next month will dramatically expand an innovative program to get people who have recently overdosed into treatment.
A Quick Response Team – which will pair a social worker from MetroHealth’s Office of Opioid Safety with a Cuyahoga County Deputy Sheriff – will begin making home visits in the city of Cleveland on Oct. 5.
“This program will save lives by going into Cleveland’s neighborhoods to bring hope and help to people who desperately need it,” said MetroHealth President and CEO Akram Boutros, MD “We know the past six months have exacerbated an unprecedented substance abuse crisis, and we continue to work with partners to advance solutions.”
County Executive Armond Budish added, “MetroHealth once again proves to be an outstanding partner to our county-wide human service efforts to treat addiction. We know from decades of experience fighting drug abuse that an immediate response helps not only the user, but the children, families, and neighborhoods, too. We are committed to this collaboration.”
“The law enforcement response to overdose and addiction has to go beyond traditional arrests and incarceration,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “Our neighbors, friends and family are often victimized by drug traffickers and the illegal substances they sell. This program will give those who are suffering from addiction and have recently overdosed an opportunity to seek treatment. Our collective goal is to help reduce repeat overdose incidents and get people the help they need.”
“Our officers on the street and those working within the Cleveland Division of Police Heroin Involved Death Investigation Team see first-hand every day the devastation caused by opioid overdoses,” said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin D. Williams. “We whole-heartedly support all efforts to assist those affected by addiction to move along the road to recovery.”
MetroHealth already has similar programs in place with the Parma Police Department and the Westshore Enforcement Bureau, made up of police departments in Lakewood, Rocky River, Westlake, Bay Village, Fairview and North Olmsted.
The seeds of expanding this program into Cleveland date back to 2019, when analysts working for the DEA were trying to find links among overdose data. They found scores of people who had overdosed multiple times.
These were drug users, not dealers. Representatives from the Justice Department, Cuyahoga County, the Cleveland Division of Police and MetroHealth agreed the best course of action was to target these people with intervention from a Quick Response Team, or QRT.
QRTs were first developed in Colerain Township near Cincinnati. Experts say people who experience an overdose typically have a window in the following days in which they might be open to going into treatment.
QRTs involve a team of social workers or addiction counselors paired with a first responder visiting the home of the person who overdosed and offering to take them to treatment on the spot. If they decline rehabilitation, the QRT leaves behind information about available treatment and other resources.
Colerain reported a significant decrease in overdoses after implementing the QRT program, and it was replicated across Ohio.
MetroHealth QRTs have met with more than 250 individuals since 2018. This year alone, teams have been able to place 10 people into treatment.
The program is funded through a federal grant to MetroHealth’s Office of Opioid Safety earmarked for Naloxone distribution and QRTs.
The existing partnerships cover a significant part of the county, including areas particularly hit hard by the opioid epidemic. Still, the city with the largest number of drug overdoses has been Cleveland. The Cleveland Division of Police will share law enforcement data with the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department and Fusion Center to generate the list of locations the QRTs will visit.
The MetroHealth System is redefining health care by going beyond medical treatment to improve the foundations of community health and well-being: affordable housing, a cleaner environment, economic opportunity and access to fresh food, convenient transportation, legal help and other services. The system strives to become as good at preventing disease as it is at treating it.
The system’s more than 600 doctors, 1,700 nurses and 7,800 employees go to work each day with a mission of service, to their patients and to the community. As Cuyahoga County’s safety-net health system, MetroHealth plays an essential role in the region, caring for anyone and everyone, regardless of an ability to pay.
Founded in 1837, MetroHealth operates four hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites throughout Cuyahoga County. The system serves more than 300,000 patients, two-thirds of whom are uninsured or covered by Medicare or Medicaid.
MetroHealth is home to Cuyahoga County’s most experienced Level I Adult Trauma Center, verified since 1992, and Ohio’s only adult and pediatric trauma and burn center.
As an academic medical center, MetroHealth is committed to research and to teaching and training tomorrow’s caregivers. Each active staff physician holds a faculty appointment at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Its main campus hospital houses the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Lincoln-West School of Science & Health, the only high school in America located inside a hospital.
Knowing that good health is about much more than good medical care, MetroHealth has launched the Institute for H.O.P.E.™ (Health, Opportunity, Partnership, Empowerment), which uses a coordinated, collaborative and strategic approach to help patients with non-medical needs such as healthy food, stable housing and job training.
The MetroHealth Glick Center, a new 11-floor hospital, is under construction on the system’s main campus in Cleveland and is scheduled to welcome its first patients in October 2022. The billion-dollar project is the cornerstone of a wider neighborhood revitalization effort led by the system and its partners in the community.
For more information, visit metrohealth.org.