Local hospital part of new program to stop opioid epidemic’s deadly trend

Local hospital part of new program to stop opioid epidemic’s deadly trend

ALLEGHENY CO., Pa. — Most people know someone impacted by the opioid crisis.

The Center for Disease Control said heroin kills one out of every 20,000 Americans, and that death rate increased five times over from 2010 to 2017.

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But Allegheny General Hospital is part of a new program to stop the deadly trend. AGH and more than 150 other hospital systems across the country are taking things a step further.

Recognizing the needs of patients with opioid abuse disorder, the department of human services developed a new incentive program offering hospitals funding to put toward four different means of treatment for patients suffering from addiction -- immediately following an overdose.

“Of those four pathways, we can initiate some medication assisted with Buprenorphine, which is a drug that helps stop that craving,” said Thomas Campbell, system chairman of emergency medicine at AHN.

And there are other pathways this provides, such as inpatient care and outside agencies who can help those addicted seek other forms of care besides medication.

Lauren Ballew, an addiction recovery specialist, said this new initiative hits the mark when it comes to what patients really need: support. He’s a member of AHN’s street medicine team -- a group of specialists who are out in the community talking to people who are addicted and letting them know they are not alone.

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