Hope Initiative pairs police, hospital
From Contributed Reports
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
The HOPE Initiative, led by the Nashville Police Department, offers access to treatment and support from Coastal Plain Hospital for drug users who are willing to seek help from the police.
In only eight months, the initiative has led to a decrease in the rate of Coastal Plain Hospital patients who are readmitted within 30 days from 12.41 percent in August 2016 to 6.84 percent in June 2017. In the same period of time, the rate of admission for opioid use disorder has increased from 16.66 percent to 29.78 percent.
The HOPE Initiative is a partnership between the Nashville Police Department, headed by Chief Thomas Bashore, and Nash UNC Health Care’s Coastal Plain Hospital. The program allows people with addictions to opioids and other drugs to turn themselves in to the police without the threat of being arrested. Participants are then transported to Coastal Plain Hospital, where they receive detox and treatment as well as continued support.
Amanda Flory, transitional care social worker with Coastal Plain Hospital, acts as the HOPE Initiative’s liaison between patients and Bashore. Flory helps guide each participant through the treatment process and oversees follow-up after discharge, which begins within 72 hours of the conclusion of inpatient treatment. Her position provides the HOPE Initiative participants with trustworthy support while they recover and transition back into independent living.
The HOPE Initiative offers a non-punitive way for drug addicts to receive treatment and to escape a lifestyle of addiction. Rather than use a confrontational style of treatment, non-punitive rehabilitation facilities seek to help their patients through compassion and offering freedom of choice. The HOPE Initiative is just one of hundreds of cooperatives nationwide between local police departments and non-punitive rehabilitation facilities connected by a non-profit organization called the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative.
Currently, 46.2 percent of inmates in federal prisons are drug offenders, and in 2016, drug possession was the number-one offense in North Carolina prisons, making up 17 percent of the prison population, while 4 percent of the population was convicted of drug trafficking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription opioids and heroin combine to cause 91 deaths per day in America. A recent study also by the CDC found that in North Carolina, the drug overdose death rate increased 14.5 percent in just one year from 2014 to 2015, and 1,567 people died in North Carolina in 2015 as a result of drug overdose.
The study states that “A multifaceted, coordinated approach between public health and public safety is also necessary to address the U.S. opioid epidemic.”