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Crozer Health’s Center of Excellence Fights Opioid Epidemic


By Grant Gegwich

Crozer Health's Opioid Treatment Center of Excellence is located at Community Hospital.

In recent years, Delaware County and the rest of Pennsylvania have faced an epidemic of opioid abuse, addiction and overdoses. In order to combat this problem, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is creating Centers of Excellence throughout the state. As part of this program, Crozer Health’s Opioid Treatment Center of Excellence has opened with a mission to help Delaware County residents suffering from opioid use disorder quickly access the recovery treatment they need.

“Crozer Health is proud to have been selected as one of the first twenty Centers of Excellence from a pool of 116 applicants. We are one of the first six centers in Southeastern Pennsylvania to have earned this designation, and the first one in Delaware County,” said Kevin Caputo, M.D., chair of Psychiatry and vice president for Behavioral Health at Crozer Health.

The Center of Excellence provides full-service case management for those struggling with opioid use disorder, removing the most common barriers to treatment. With a commitment to educating the community, staff from the Center of Excellence work to ensure healthcare, education and law enforcement organizations can identify those who need treatment and refer them to the Center. Patients can be referred or contact the Center directly.

By acting as a bridge to treatment, the Center of Excellence staff is there every step of the way to help patients navigate the system, even providing transportation when needed. In most cases, the staff is able to place a patient in a treatment center within 48 hours of initial contact. In addition to providing a warm hand-off to treatment, the Center of Excellence staff remains committed to the patient from that point forward, continuing to be involved with the individual and following the patient throughout the treatment process.

“In one recent case, the Center of Excellence was contacted by a member of the community who wanted to begin treatment and didn’t know where to turn for help. That individual had no way to get to the Center, so staff was able to go and get the person at his home and bring him in for evaluation and start his path to treatment,” said Stacie Nawn, director of the Center of Excellence. “This is a perfect example of the level of service we are now able to provide to the community,”

In addition to the Director of the Center, the staff includes a service coordinator, nurse navigator, master’s level social worker and two certified recovery specialists. Because those who are struggling with addiction often have no close family or friends to turn to for help, this full-service, team approach provides essential supports at a critical time.

All Center of Excellence services are free of charge to Delaware County residents, through a grant established by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and a partnership with the Delaware County office of Behavioral Health, Division of Drug and Alcohol. Because of this financial support, patients do not have to worry about how to pay for treatment, if their insurance is accepted or how to get referrals for treatment.

“The Center of Excellence provides a necessary bridge to treatment for individuals struggling with opioid abuse,” said David Moran, director of the Crozer Health Recovery Center. “We are able to swiftly and seamlessly connect people to the services they need, whether through our own 52-bed First Steps Treatment Center, or one of the other facilities in the area.”

Opioid addiction often starts with a patient overusing prescription pain medication, such as morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone and fentanyl. Once the prescriptions run out, the patients then turn to use of illegal opioids, such as heroin.

In 2015, Pennsylvania reported a 23 percent increase in the number of drug-related overdose deaths from the previous year, with heroin being the most frequently identified drug in toxicology test results. The same year, there were 204 drug-related deaths in Delaware County, and more than half of those were related to use of heroin and fentanyl.

For more information or to seek treatment for opioid addiction, members of the community can call (610) 497-7336 or visit crozerkeystone.org/Opioid.

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