By BETSY TAYLOR
The Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Avera Health system was the first to sign up for a new patient care network launched in August by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, well known for its work in addiction treatment.
The information and referral network is a clinical collaboration intended to improve outcomes for patients recovering from addiction. Members will share best practices and the latest evidence-based addiction and recovery research.
The network will explore how to engage patients longer, how to cultivate better relationships between patients and providers and how to improve patient self-efficacy, said representatives of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and Avera Health.
Deb Newton, Hazelden Betty Ford's patient care network manager, said while clinical collaborations are not new to health care, they are new in addiction treatment.
"Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is going to be providing tools and resources for organizations at the leadership level, and clinical tools and resources at the staff level, as well as resources for the patients, families and communities," Newton said.
The member organizations have access to Hazelden Betty Ford educational materials, webinars, mobile apps and research. They can distribute co-branded fact sheets and get reduced rates on the organization's graduate school addiction studies courses and degree programs.
Each member organization in the patient care network can send three leaders to observe treatment and explore topics related to best practices at a Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation facility.
A potential member pays a "nominal" fee to apply to be in the patient care network, and then for access to the network's resources, Newton said.
By mid-November, the patient care network had enlisted seven members in addition to Avera. They are Springfield, Ill.-based Hospital Sisters Health System, and its affiliate L.E. Phillips-Libertas Treatment Center in Chippewa Falls, Wis.; University of Toledo Medical Center in Ohio; Harbor Behavioral Health also in Toledo, Ohio; The Haven at College based in Los Angeles; The Lovett Center in Houston; and Harbor Hall of Petoskey, Mich.
Network membership is open to health care systems, addiction treatment programs, behavioral health programs and specialty providers in addiction-related fields. To join the network, organizations must be philosophically aligned with the foundation, the brain science of addiction and the 12-step principles of recovery. Members support long-term patient engagement through a continuum of programs and services.
Network members also support the use of medication-assisted therapy with abstinence-based recovery as the goal, and the use of evidence-based psychosocial therapies for addiction and abstinence from potentially addicting substances, except for those required for medical/psychiatric care, according to a booklet from Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation about the network.
Thomas Otten, director of behavioral health for Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center in Sioux Falls, said Avera Health has collaborated with — and sent referrals to — Hazelden Betty Ford for years.
Avera, which serves rural areas in the Northern Midwest, provides outpatient treatment for addiction and other substance abuse disorders. It refers patients to Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation facilities for residential addiction treatment, which Avera does not currently provide. Avera would like to offer residential substance abuse treatment care in the future, Otten said. He added that, because of the stigma society assigns to addiction, some patients in early recovery prefer to leave their community for treatment. He said there is an ongoing effort by the addiction treatment community to increase understanding of addiction as a disease as opposed to a character flaw.
Newton said when a patient referred by Avera completes inpatient treatment at a Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation facility, that facility can offer that individual a smooth transition to continued care at an Avera facility closer to the patient's home.
The Hazelden treatment center began as an alcoholism recovery program in the 1940s in Minnesota, with care rooted in the 12-step principles and practices. The Betty Ford Center opened in 1982 in Rancho Mirage, Calif., to assist people in recovery from substance abuse.
In 2014, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, based in Center City, Minn., was created when the organizations merged. The foundation has a publishing house, a graduate school, a research center and offers education for medical professionals and family members of those addicted or in recovery. Hazelden Betty Ford has treatment centers, prevention or support programs in California, Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado and Texas. Avera Health has facilities in five states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska.
Participation in the patient care network is not contingent on geographic proximity to Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation facilities.
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