South County Hospital

ER receives Level 3 certification for opioid care

The South County Hospital Emergency Department was recognized on Wednesday, September 13, 2017, for the leadership role it has taken to provide care for opioid-use disorders.

William Sabina, MD, Chief of Emergency Medicine, and Steven Juchnik, BSN, RN, CEN, Emergency Services Director, were recognized at a meeting of the Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, a group initiated by Governor Gina Raimondo to ensure that best practices in the treatment of opioid-use disorder are in place at emergency departments and hospitals throughout the state.

South County Hospital was recognized for achieving Level 3 Care Designation standards to treat patients with high opioid use. A Level 3 designation is granted upon meeting the criteria of the 2016 Alexander C. Perry and Brandon Goldner Act that specifies discharge planning procedures in emergency departments and hospitals for patients with opioid-use disorder, as well as submitting the required reports of overdoses to the RI Department of Health within 48 hours, and testing routinely for fentanyl.

These criteria were established in March 2017 by the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) and Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH).

"A lot of processes were already in place at South County Hospital. The additional requirements strengthened our existing partnerships with South Kingstown Police Department, South Kingstown Partnership for Prevention, Narragansett Prevention Partnership, and The Providence Center's AnchorED," said Steven Juchnik. "The biggest success story from this is bringing all the factions together to address overdose and opioid-use disorder, including the emergency department, nurses, physicians, Rhode Island Department of Health and state agencies, law enforcement, local prevention coalitions, and treatment and recovery facilities."

Behavioral health issues that often lead to unhealthy life choices have created a serious concern across the state. According to the RIDOH Community Needs Assessment, Washington County has the highest rate of suicide in the state and, over the last three years, 147 opiate overdoses have been reported.

As the preeminent health care system for the communities within Washington County, South County Hospital and the South County Health system fully recognizes the need for behavioral health services. South County Health Board of Trustees voted to make behavioral health a key focus for its Community Health Assessment Implementation plan.

“The number of opioid-affected patients that come to South County Hospital’s emergency department has been steadily increasing,” Dr. Sabina said. “Our goal, and the goal of the criteria set by the Task Force, is to lower the rate of overdose deaths. What we’ve accomplished at South County Hospital is to have the processes and resources in place so that our emergency room becomes one of the first steps toward recovery for these patients.”