Cynthia Persily, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dr. Persily is the CEO of Highland Hospital in Charleston, WV
Today, I picked up my weekly edition of The State Journal to see the headline “Addicted State” (The State Journal, July 15-21, 2016 www.statejournal.com). In this edition were articles about health care systems adapting to care for babies affected by their mom’s substance use, hospital assisted recovery programs, neighbors helping neighbors to overcome addiction, and the impact of overdoses on police and medics who are on the frontline every day. It’s a sobering statement on what has happened in many states as we all struggle to know how to deal with the societal problem of addiction.
At the Highland companies, we deal with the people in the grip of addiction every day. Whether we are caring for adults in our hospital who have been self-treating their psychiatric problems with illicit drugs, or children who have experienced the trauma inflicted through living in an environment where drug use is rampant, or we are caring for people who come to us for help detoxing from alcohol or drugs, we are seeing every day the ravages of substance abuse. It’s not easy for our patients, it’s not easy for their families, it’s a struggle for our communities, and it’s a stressor for our care providers. But the bottom line is, there is hope.
There are many good things happening in our state that will help to solve the problem of substance abuse. And, we at Highland are a part of many of these. For instance, the WV Help Line (1-844-Help4WV) has been supported by Governor Tomblin, and is helping people every day who need referrals to treatment for substance abuse. Whenever someone calls who needs treatment, they are connected in real time to the place where they can get help. In our case, many of those who call for help are connected directly to our admissions department and are admitted to our Highland Health Center for our 7 day detoxification program. They receive support through the detox process along with intensive therapy and referral to longer term programs. We work hard to support our patients as they take the first difficult step toward sobriety.
What else is happening in our state to help with the problem of substance abuse? People are finally talking about substance abuse. Forums around the state are bringing stakeholders like providers, the police, community members, the religious community, and those who have suffered from addictive disorders to talk about how they can deal with the issues that are in their community. Last week, our Highland team, including Carla Hall, Director of Patient Care Services for Highland Hospital, as well as Jim Strawn, Director of Marketing and Community Outreach, and Ray Parsons, Marketing Representative attended one of these community forums sponsored by First Choice Health Systems, and they were invigorated with the discussions that were happening there about solving local problems with local talents.
So, while the situation is dire, things are happening that make me hopeful that as a state we will overcome the problems of substance abuse. West Virginian’s will once again roll up our sleeves and we will fight this problem. It’s going to take all of us working together, and it’s going to take resources and will, but we will make a difference. Our Highland companies, as always, will be here to help win the battle.