What is the Recovery Coach in the Emergency Department program or the RC in the ED?
Currently operating in 8 locations across the state, the RC in the ED program pairs hospitals and medical centers throughout Vermont with their local recovery centers to offer an additional layer of support to community members struggling with Substance Use Disorder. Turning Point of Rutland and Rutland Regional Medical Center are just one piece of this network of partners looking to meet the needs of Vermonters who may find themselves in the ED as the result of a Substance Use issue.
Why do we do it? Because we care is too simple an answer, and ALL of the relevant statistics are too long an answer, so I’ll try to split the difference here for you. Hospitals across the state are seeing a steady influx of individuals struggling with Substance Use issues many of these are repeat visitors, and while they are well equipped to handle the physical and to some degree the mental after-effects of substance misuse, they are often not equipped to address the underlying addiction concerns. In just the first 20 months of the program nearly 2,200 Vermonters were seen by Recovery Coaches (RC’s) in the Emergency Department of their local Hospitals with almost half of these agreeing to follow-up recovery support, displaying not only the need for the extended services but some early success as well.
How do we do what we do? Just as medical staff are specifically trained to ply their craft so are Recovery Coaches. Our RC’s receive a total of 57 hours of training to become Coaches, an additional 12 hours of training for working within an Emergency Department and trainings at the Hospital/Medical Center level related to safety and protocol. RC’s are also expected to obtain a minimum number of direct supervision hours and Continuing Education Units or CEU’s to maintain their credentials in the State of Vermont. Among the skills developed through trainings are motivational interviewing, ethics and boundaries and trauma informed practices. In practical terms, when a patient is identified as struggling with Substance Use Disorder Emergency Department staff places a call to the on-duty RC who reports to the facility’s Department. After a short briefing concerning the individual, the RC will engage the patient if they are willing to seek additional support. Working with medical and social work staff the RC can then facilitate resource management for the patient on a personalized level beginning with daily follow-up recovery support and including concerns such as treatment options, housing, food security and systems navigation.
Part of the reason behind the success of the Recovery Coach profession is the ability to work on a more personal level with individuals and support their own unique path to recovery. Pair this with evidence-based practices and the support of other professionals in the community and the chances of successful recovery from Substance Use Disorder dramatically improve. While success rates for recovery are typically dismal, early program data collection points to meeting the goals of reduced recidivism within the Emergency Departments and increased engagement at local recovery centers, giving hope that even more Vermonters will find their path to sustained recovery.