After three years of trying to have this project for Lorain County, Mercy Regional Medical Center in Lorain, Mercy Allen in Oberlin, and Cleveland Clinic in Avon were brave enough to work with us on the Warm Hand Off Project, which started in 2017. This project gave us the opportunity to reach people struggling with addiction when they are in most need of help and compassion.
Under this project, when someone enters the emergency room presenting with either an overdose or a drug or alcohol-related issue, we are given the opportunity to send a certified peer supporter to the hospital to meet with the individual.
Our certified peer supporters utilize their personal experience with addiction and recovery to connect with the individual on a personal level and give them the opportunity to seek help. If the individual is open to being helped, the peer supporter with the support of our outreach office will start the process of finding an appropriate detox or treatment center for the individual.
The facility chosen is based on a wide range of factors including the primary drug being used, the individual’s insurance, and other mitigating factors that may be present such as mental or physical illness.
Our peers also work to remove all barriers that may prevent the individual from seeking treatment. This may include helping the individual get new identification if they do not have license or birth certificate, taking them to Job and Family Services to apply for Medicaid, or even taking them shopping so they have clothes and personal care items to take with them.
Our peers will also talk to significant others and family members to help encourage everyone supporting the individual’s decision to get help. Our peers will provide family members with information about our family support group that meets in our office.
Finally, once all the arrangements are made, our peer supporters drive the individual to detox and stay with them until they are admitted. Once they are in detox, the peer will start working on arranging a treatment center for them to go directly to from detox.
Our peers continue working with the individual ass long as they are committed to their recovery.
WHO is considered an emergency project because we may get calls at all hours of the day or night to meet with a new individual. This means our peers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are constantly on-call and ready to go.
We currently have four peers that work on our WHO project.
Warm Hand Off (WHO)
We currently work with local hospitals under the Warm Hand Off Project responding 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition to these services, our Warm Hand Off project with local hospitals demonstrates our proficiency in navigation and referral to local treatment providers. The success of our navigational assistance from the ER to detox or treatment has proven the overall effectiveness of the project. Kathy Brunner is the program coordinator for this project. She is available for your questions; however, it is the outreach coordinator’s job to assist the CPRS during office hours. There are currently six CPRSs that work in this program.
Lorain County Recovery Court
Under the Lorain County Recovery Court project, our peers connect on a regular basis with participants and work hand-in-hand with P.O. court officials, recovery houses, and treatment providers to enhance the likelihood of successful outcomes for the client.
We work with Lise Day from the Lorain County Alcohol and Drug Addiction Board (ADAS), who is the coordinator for this project. There are four CPRSs who engage with participants in this program.
Police Assisted Project (PAP)
Under this project, CPRSs respond with 75 minutes to calls from participating police stations throughout Lorain County. This program is similar to WHO in that we consider it one of our emergency projects and peers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Any one looking for help with their addiction can go into a participating police station, ask for help, and they will contact us immediately.
Individuals in need of our assistance that do not fit under the requirements of the above programs are still provided with CPRS services. This are the people that do not come to us through the hospitals, courts or police stations. Often times they are referred to us or call our office and ask for help. We also connect with them through the Lorain County Harm Reduction Program and the Pre- and Post-Release program with CBCF.