A multi-year partnership between Gateway Foundation and 26 Illinois hospitals, including some in this community, now places addiction treatment specialists inside emergency departments and med-surg floors, leading more people to lifesaving treatment.
The hospitals located in this community that are participating are St. Anthony Hospital and the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System (UI Health). Near West Side-based Rush University Health System is participating at its Oak Park hospital.
The Warm Hand Off Program, now in its fifth year, aims to immediately refer hospital patients showing signs of addiction into treatment services. Since the program’s inception, more than 5,000 Illinois residents have received education, outreach, and screenings about their substance use disorder and treatment options. Prior to Gateway Foundation’s program, these patients were released from hospitals without any concrete addiction recovery plans and often cycled back into the hospital.
This announcement comes as the U.S. continues to face mounting addiction issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 107,622 people overdosed in the U.S. in 2021 – an increase of nearly 15% from 2020. Fatal overdoses rose from 21.7% to 28.3%. In
addition, fentanyl-laced opioids continue to cause mass overdose deaths.
The Warm Hand Off Program goes into action when a hospital staffer identifies patients in their emergency rooms with substance use disorder. Then, a Gateway Foundation addiction specialist performs an intake screening to determine next-level care. Specialists work to transfer the patient to the appropriate level of treatment upon discharge.
“The Warm Hand Off Program gives us the ability to respond quickly to these patients,” said Teresa Garate, MD, senior vice president of Gateway Foundation. “When someone makes the decision to seek help, time is of the essence. If they don’t immediately go into treatment, the chances that they will go at a later date are slim, and we may lose a life.”
“Gateway Foundation continues to partner with more Illinois hospitals in our collective fight to battle substance use addiction,” Garate said. “As the number of people with substance use disorder and overdoses continues to rise, Gateway Foundation is expanding this program, with the expectation to be engaged with a total of 30 hospitals by the end of 2022.”
This work is funded, in part, by a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery.
Gateway Foundation is Illinois’ only statewide provider of addiction treatment services for clients diagnosed with co-occurring mental health disorders. For over 50 years, Gateway Foundation’s professional clinicians helped one million families recover from substance use disorders by developing personalized plans to treat the underlying causes of their addiction. Gateway Foundation’s 24-hour hotline is (855) 925-GATE (4283), and its website is |www.gatewayfoundation.org.