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United Way grants help ease access to addiction treatment

Acting on its “Bold Goal” to greatly reduce emergency room (ER) visits due to opioid-related drug overdoses, United Way of Summit County recently awarded two grants to Summa Health, totaling $360,000. The grants support the Summa Health System — Barberton Campus ER in becoming a “front door” to medication-assisted addiction treatment, care coordination and social services that increase patients’ likelihood of successful treatment and recovery. The grants fund a full-time addiction medicine care coordinator who meets with patients who have overdosed. 

“That personal, face-to-face encounter makes a big difference,” said Michael Hughes, M.D., president of Summa Health System – Barberton Campus. “In the past, patients were treated and stabilized in the emergency room. Then, when patients were discharged, they were given phone numbers for referrals for outpatient treatment. Now, patients can begin medically assisted treatment before they leave the ER.” 

Patients continue care with a “bridge” provider until they start an intensive outpatient program with a definitive provider – all arranged by the care coordinator, who also screens for other needs that can be a barrier to treatment — lack of safe housing, reliable transportation, childcare, as well as food insecurity – and works to address them in collaboration with United Way. 

“We are grateful for the support of partners like United Way,” said Department of Psychiatry Chair Joseph Varley, M.D., holder of the Jim and Vanita Oelschlager Endowed Chair in Psychiatry and Behavioral Health. “These grants strengthen the ability of Summa Health Behavioral Health Institute to creatively coordinate and integrate services with our community partners that promote wellness and recovery.”


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