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.