Inpatient medical stabilization service now at SGCMH
(Terry Westrich, Service Coordinator for New Vision and Donna Gilliam, intake coordinator for New Vision.)
More than 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, the most ever, according to new federal statistics.
The disastrous tally has been pushed to new heights by soaring abuse of heroin and prescription painkillers, a class of drugs known as opioids.
Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital is confronting this problem head on with New Vision, a new medical stabilization service for people with drug, alcohol and health related issues.
Terry Westrich, service coordinator for New Vision, said the aim of the program is to get people in distress the help they need.
“New Vision, a medical stabilization service, is hospital – based service,” he explained. “We work with hospitals and we give relief for patients who are in withdrawal from their medications. It’s generally a three-night stay in the hospital. When patients come in they are experiencing acute withdrawal, whether it’s from opioids or alcohol. If the patient meets criteria, they are admitted to the hospital. When they leave they are stable and ready to move on to the next step, which is generally continuing in-patient treatment at an alcohol or drug treatment facility, or maybe outpatient counseling or intensive outpatient therapy.”
Westrich stressed that before that patient leaves the hospital, there is a plan set up, so they always have a next step.
“This is just the first step—getting them through the withdrawal stage,” he said. “Sometimes it takes a while for someone to come to the realization that they are an addict. Once they make that determination and are ready for help, that’s where we come in. We’re that first step to getting them on the road to recovery. It can be a long process. It takes time to become an addict, and it takes time to kick the habit. We’re here to help all along the way.”
Westrich went on to explain that for a lot of individuals this can be an embarrassing situation, and they don’t want people to know about it.
“When they’re admitted to the hospital, nobody knows why they’re here,” he explained. “They are here because they are sick and we are helping them get better. They are just like any other patient. We have a scheduled medication protocol that that individual is put on to ease the symptoms of withdrawal. They will be treated by physicians and by the nursing staff at SGCMH. After three days they are stable and feeling much better. We’ve got that roadmap for recovery for them.”
Many people make assumptions about who an addict is, but Westrich explains that a lot of people are functioning alcoholics or users—people you would never suspect.
“Some people addicted to opioids or alcohol might be very responsible, productive and go to work every day,” he said. “They may even be a high achiever. So we work with employers and insurance departments to make sure they get the help that they need so that they can continue to be a productive employee. From an employer standpoint, when you have good employees, you want to do what you can to keep them.”
New Vision, based out of St. Louis, has been around for 25 years and works with nearly 50 hospitals across the country and has treated close to 500,000 patients.
“Primarily we’re working with patients who are addicted to prescription pain medications, heroin and alcohol,” Westrich explained. “There are also other addictions like benzodiazepine, Xanax, cocaine, marijuana and meth. In Ste. Genevieve, we anticipate focusing primarily on opioid, alcohol and benzo addiction.”
“Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital’s new inpatient medical stabilization program is an important service to offer to our community,” said Tom Keim, SGCMH CEO. “We believe our partnership with New Vision will help people take the first step toward breaking the addiction cycle.”
The service accepts Medicaid, Medicare insurance and most commercial insurance.
To learn more about the New Vision program, call Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital at 573-883-1165 or 1-800-939-2273. All calls are confidential.