Substance use navigators work with patients in the emergency department to complete chemical dependency assessments. The navigators then provide patients with links to care, including placement in treatment facilities and other wrap-around services. Premier Health is first in the region to implement a substance use navigator program, the health system said.
“The substance use navigators are actually part of a larger plan to treat substance use disorders in the emergency room,” said Dr. Kimberly Wascak, who is Premier Health’s physician lead for the grant funding this program.
In mid-2021, Premier Health, in partnership with ProMedica, received a grant from the Ohio Department of Health to treat emergency department patients struggling with substance use and connect them with resources for recovery.
“We looked across the country at the best models of who was having the best results helping their patients, and we were able to model our program of the substance use navigators after those programs,” Wascak said.
CA Bridge, or California Bridge, was an early leader of the substance use navigator program and has been providing guidance to Premier Health’s program, Wascak said.
“In California, patients that are looking to begin recovery come into the emergency department and specifically ask for a SUN (substance use navigator),” Wascak said. “We look forward to the day when patients who need help with substance use come into our emergency centers and request assistance from a SUN.”