When 36-year-old Natasha Woodruff decided she needed help quitting alcohol and drugs, she turned to Mercy Hospital Ardmore’s new inpatient substance abuse withdrawal service.
“When you decide you want help — and it’s not an easy decision to make — you need to have help right away so you don’t give up,” said Woodruff. “I’m just so lucky that he (Herman Ford) answered the phone when I called.”
In August, Mercy Hospital Ardmore partnered with the Missouri-based TriTanium Solutions to begin offering the BreakThru service to individuals who want to be medically stabilized while going through withdrawal from alcohol and/or drugs. The program features two dedicated BreakThru staff members, Herman Ford and Kim Ford, who work with health care professionals at Mercy.
“This partnership provides a much-needed community resource so patients can take the first step toward recovery within a safe, comfortable and confidential hospital environment,” said Daryle Voss, president of Mercy Hospital Ardmore.
Substance abuse and misuse represents one of the most pressing public health crises in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under age 50 and 91 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses alone.
Oklahoma is not immune to these issues.
According to the 2012-2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report, Oklahoma ranked ninth in the nation for adult dependence or abuse of illicit drugs or alcohol.
“Our service is in alignment with the Mercy mission and together we will help bridge the significant unmet need for this patient population within Mercy and the community it services,” said Brad Fercho, CEO of TriTanium Solutions.
Patient cases are reviewed to determine medical necessity, the severity of withdrawal and the benefits of treatment. Patients, like Woodruff, then come to the hospital by scheduled appointment for direct admission and stay on the medical/surgical unit for about three days. The service can treat up to three patients at any given time.
While patients go through withdrawal from alcohol and/or drugs, health care professionals also manage symptoms related to other medical issues, such as anxiety, hypertension, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Pain-relieving and other system-stabilizing medications are administered throughout the withdrawal period, ensuring safe and effective medical outcomes.
Herman Ford and Kim Ford also work closely with community addiction treatment providers and assist patients in transitioning to the next phase of recovery after discharge from the hospital. They follow up with patients at one-, three-, six- and 12-month intervals to provide support and assistance, and to measure patient outcomes.
TriTanium Solutions operates the BreakThru service in seven locations across the country, including Ardmore. To date, about 70 percent of patients who participated in the BreakThru service at other locations were compliant with their discharge plans and more than 50 percent completed outpatient treatment by the one-year mark.
“Addiction is a medical condition and needs to be treated like any other medical condition,” said Voss. “What is so valuable about this service is that patients receive the care they need by a team of nurses and doctors like any other patient staying at the hospital.”
Woodruff stayed at Mercy Hospital Ardmore for three days in early October as she went through withdrawal. With the help of Herman Ford, her aftercare for addiction treatment was coordinated and in place prior to discharge to help her succeed in her recovery.
Remaining in recovery from addiction is a lifelong process. Because the BreakThru staff members work closely with the patients while they are in the hospital, they develop strong and lasting relationships with their patients. Patients can call anytime for support, reassurance and an encouraging word. It is common for patients who have gone through the BreakThru service to remain in contact with the BreakThru staff for years.
Although Woodruff has a long journey ahead of her, she is thankful for the BreakThru service in Ardmore.
“Not everyone has the option to pack their bags and leave,” she said. “If they want help they need to be able to get it where they live. Overall, it is a great program.”
Mercy is currently exploring the option of offering BreakThru services in other Mercy hospitals.
To learn more about the BreakThru service at Mercy Hospital Ardmore, call 580-220-6089 or visit mercy.net/Breakthru.