News & Events

Mercy launches new comprehensive program to treat opioid use disorder

Date: 03/20/2019

Rapid access treatment for opioid use disorder combines immediate withdrawal relief with a long-term plan for recovery

In partnership with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Northern Light Mercy Hospital’s emergency department has introduced rapid access treatment to provide patients immediate relief from opioid withdrawal symptoms while also initiating ongoing support that increases the patient’s chances for recovery.

“This is a new model that will help save lives in Maine,” said Melissa Skahan, vice president of mission integration for Mercy Hospital. “It’s truly a comprehensive approach that reaches someone at the moment when they may be most receptive to getting help, and it assists them along each step of the pathway to recovery.”

A trip to a hospital emergency department can provide the incentive to change for someone struggling with opioid use disorder. However, after narrowly avoiding an overdose, patients often face delays getting into treatment programs.

Now, with rapid access treatment, patients who meet the clinical criteria for opioid use disorder can begin Suboxone treatment in Mercy’s emergency department to counteract the immediate effects of withdrawal. Patients are then given a comprehensive assessment as the start of their ongoing treatment.
Once a patient leaves the emergency department, they are referred to a board-certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner who can prescribe Suboxone and other psychiatric medications to manage underlying mental health conditions. Patients are also referred to a social worker and a primary care provider.
Additionally, through a partnership with Amistad, a recovery coach helps patients continue to access treatment and a range of community supports. These may include:
  • Sober housing
  • Recovery-oriented support groups
  • Ongoing coaching
  • Workforce development, with assistance from the Maine Recovery Fund and its sister employment company, MaineWorks