South Florida Hospital News
Thursday September 19, 2019
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September 2018 - Volume 15 - Issue 3

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100-Day Challenge Tackles Opioid Crisis in Palm Beach County

Palm Beach County leaders from non-profits, for profits and government have come together to address one of the most urgent public health crises in recent history—the opioid epidemic.

Over the past three years, Palm Beach County has become an epicenter in the state for the deadly opioid crisis. The number of opioid-related overdose deaths hit epidemic proportions in 2016 with 571 lives lost and nearly 600 more in 2017. While recent statistics have finally started to show a downturn in fatalities, the urgency and need for dramatic change remains.
 
Southeast Florida Behavioral Health Network (SEFBHN), Palm Beach County’s regional managing entity for behavioral health, and Palm Health Foundation joined forces in February 2018 to engage over 30 county partners on a turbocharged, collaborative approach to combat the opioid crisis. The vision was to unify fragmented silos into a comprehensive county-wide system of care for the addicted. With support from the Hanley Foundation and Town of Palm Beach United Way, the partners employed the Rapid Results Institute (RRI), an international non-profit known for its breakthrough approach to helping communities solve complex social challenges. RRI conducted its unique 100-day challenge process to turn the tide on the opioid epidemic.
 
With limited but pooled resources, the challenge called on collaborative partners to look at system gaps and put in safety nets where none existed, proactively connect the addicted with detox services, treatment, and certified recovery housing instead of returning them to the streets, and open a new intake facility instead of staring down a bottlenecked waitlist. No part of the system was sacred and participating agencies were required to be nimble, cast aside the status quo, and have brutally honest—and at times highly charged —conversations. And they had to do it all within 100 days.
 
The results? By the end of the 100 days on June 11, 2018, a new Safety Net Recovery System of care for Palm Beach County had been established. In the new system, the team beat its goal of serving 125 people in 100 days with treatment and/or certified recovery housing, serving 135. The team also identified critical points where individuals, particularly those without insurance or financial resources, fall through the cracks:
 
• To relieve bottlenecks, a new intake facility with 14 beds was opened, and the local 211 agreed to serve as a central call center, connecting those in crisis to the newly established system of care and to detox and treatment facilities 24/7.
 
• The 100-Day team established Recovery Navigational Support (RNS), a recovery intervention designed to successfully bridge clients from acute care to self-sustainable recovery. To do this, 14 Recovery Navigators were trained and certified through a contract with Recovery Outcomes Institute to develop a peer workforce trained to deliver RNS to a group of qualified, Palm Beach County candidates.
 
• To ensure all individuals would have access to and benefit from RNS, the team collaborated with 11 Certified Recovery Residences to incorporate RNS into their residences. SEFBHN provided 100-Day Challenge vouchers to help cover rent costs for those who lacked insurance or financial resources as they improved their employability.
 
“While the work goes on and there is more to be done, this initiative has been one bright light in a devastating healthcare crisis that has plagued South Florida,” said Ann Berner, president and CEO of SEFBHN. “The collaboration and measurement systems deployed through the 100-day challenge helped us quickly identify where we needed to focus our efforts to save lives and stem the opioid epidemic.”
 
The collaborative is seeking ongoing support to strengthen the much-needed new system of care and provide sustainability for the long-term.

Patrick McNamara is President and CEO of the Palm Health Foundation. For more information, call (561) 833-6333, email PMcNamara@phfpbc.orgor visit www.palmhealthcare.org.

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