New partnership brings the expertise of law enforcement and health care together to help break the cycle of addiction.
AdventHealth, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, Seminole County EMS/Fire Rescue and the Board of County Commissioners 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. This 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. “This partnership and new model for using medically based treatment to help those with substance abuse disorder, will help us break that cycle. Expanding addiction treatment in the region will not only ensure sure people receive needed care and support after they leave the hospital, it will 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.
Central Florida reflects the opioid crisis that has spread across the U.S. 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, 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 ER 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 ER 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 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 Dr. 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.”