Program assists patients with opioid use disorders transition from hospital to treatment

Posted at 3:22 PM, Dec 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-10 18:10:00-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Healthcare has a new program that is helping some people with opioid use disorders get the treatment they need faster.

This new program helps to meet the health and social needs of people living with opioid use disorders who also have infectious diseases.

“That’s what we’re here to do, is to help change lives and give people the opportunity of medical and behavioral specialists together,” said Kathy Bray, the President of Volunteers of America, Utah.

The idea for this program started in 2014 when caregivers noticed a spike in the number of patients coming to the hospital with staph infections or MRSA due to heroin use.

"To bring people into addiction treatment while they were completing their antibiotics it was a really clever and creative collaboration that we are proud to be part of,” said Bray.

Doctors say managing the withdrawals while someone has a serious infection makes it difficult to treat them. And this program will help to treat both their infection and addiction at the same time by using a special catheter in the arm or chest.

“The infection really, if they are able to stop injecting this is the short-lived problem in their life that we can treat but we have to hand it off to the people who are specialized in the addiction piece to this,” said Dr. Dean Mayer.

Jamie Shaw, who was one of the first patients to use this program, knows all about addiction.

“I’d been doing meth, alcohol, cocaine for about 20 years. I was out of control,” said Shaw.

After attempting suicide, he knew he needed to get help and says he’s grateful for everyone who supported him through this program.

“I’m proud to say I’ve been clean and sober ever since. I’m genuinely happy all the time while I work out the kinks,” said Shaw.

The program is done in connection with Volunteers of America Utah and Odyssey House.

To help continue treating patients for their addictions while they receive treatment for infections at the same time.