APPLETON (NBC 26) — As the alarming drug crisis continues nationwide, Ascension Wisconsin is offering support for patients struggling with addiction.
"Our mission is to help serve those that are vulnerable so when you think of vulnerable patient populations out in the community, that's definitely one of them,” said Dana Jahr, emergency and trauma services manager at Ascension St. Elizabeth Hospital.
When a patient is admitted into the emergency room as a result of an overdose or something substance or alcohol related, the hospital then offers them to join the ED2 Recovery Program.
The program pairs the patient with peer support and in some cases helps with treatment, employment and other support services in the community.
"We've had a lot of positive success in being able to set the patient up with a recovery coach before they leave the department," Jahr said. "I think that's huge for the patients to have that opportunity and that resource immediately available before they leave our doors or before they go to the in-patient units or transfer to another facility.”
The hospital works with non-profit group Apricity to contract recovery coaches.
The coaches are in recovery themselves, so they are able to share their lived experiences.
"Many of them have had overdoses, they wound up in the hospitals, they've walked the recovery journey, they've been in treatment, they've been in jail, they've had other problems with drugs and alcohol, so they can connect with those recovery coaches on a different level,” said Dan Haak, president of contract packaging and recovery support services at Apricity.
The support offered comes during a time where the pandemic has worsened the nation's substance abuse crisis.
In the Fox Valley, Jahr explains they're not immune to substance abuse.
"We've seen a lot of it here in the emergency department. I think we feel it a lot more,” Jahr said. "We've been seeing an increase in substance abuse disorders over the last couple years and really probably an uptick since the COVID-19 pandemic."
This program is now available at Acension’s Appleton, Oshkosh and Chilton hospitals.
Officials said this program was already running in Milwaukee area hospitals since 2018.