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SwedishAmerican helps fight Illinois opioid crisis

Staff Report

ROCKFORD — SwedishAmerican has been recognized by the Illinois Department of Human Services as one of only 14 Illinois hospitals that will participate in its Warm Hand-off Program to combat opioid addiction.

The IDHS Hospital Warm Hand-off Program connects recovery support specialists directly to patients with opioid use disorder while they are in the hospital recovering from an overdose or receiving other hospital treatment.

The Illinois Department of Public Health’s data shows that opioid overdoses killed 2,202 people in Illinois in 2017 alone – more than one and a half times the number of homicides and nearly twice the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents.

“It’s just going to continue to grow and grow unless we do something,” Vice President of Health and Patient Services and the Chief Nursing Officer Ann Gantzer said. “With this grant, SwedishAmerican will continue to be there for our citizens and be one of the champions to help address addiction issues. We can now be involved from start to finish in their care, which is different than what we have now.”

SwedishAmerican will now have a recovery specialist that will do a Warm Hand-off with a patient when they leave the hospital to enter a treatment center. The grant will allow SwedishAmerican to hire 20 new employees to be involved in the collaborative relationship between the patient and recovery support specialist.

“The grant will allow us to provide transportation to a treatment center for the patient, and the recovery specialist will then continue to care for and support the client for up to one year,” said Amy Kirsch, the Director of Psychiatric Services for SwedishAmerican. “This means we are not just giving a referral on paper. We are actually going to the treatment facility and providing ongoing care management.”

SwedishAmerican is the only local hospital that will receive the state grant opportunity. The others are Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn; Advocate Condell, Libertyville; Advocate Good Shepherd, Barrington; Alton Memorial Hospital, Alton; Cook County Health and Hospital System, Chicago; Methodist Hospital, Chicago; Methodist Medical Center of Illinois, Peoria; Mount Sinai Hospital and Medical Center, Chicago; Norwegian American Hospital, Chicago; Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center, Chicago; Roseland Community Hospital, Chicago; Rush University Medical Center, Chicago; Silver Cross Hospital, New Lenox; Southern Illinois Healthcare, three campuses; Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, Carbondale; Herrin Hospital, Herrin; St. Joseph Hospital, Murphysboro; St. Anthony Hospital, Chicago; St. Bernard Hospital, Chicago; Thorek Hospital, Chicago; University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, Chicago; and  Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan. R.

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