AnchorED is an innovative initiative of Anchor Recovery Community Center, a program of The Providence Center. According to the CDC, 144 lives are lost daily to drug overdose in the nation. In 2014, 232 lives were lost due to opioid overdoses in Rhode Island. SAMHSA ranks Rhode Island as having the highest rate of substance use disorders in the nation for youth and adults. Faced with this epidemic, state leaders asked Anchor staff to design a program using peers and recovery support services to intervene when victims of opioid overdoses are in the emergency department. Created in July 2014, AnchorED is an on-call system that dispatches certified recovery coaches to emergency departments to see patients who have experienced an opioid overdose. Recovery coaches offer one-on-one peer support, personal engagement, service referrals, education, Narcan training, and follow-up contact. The goal of AnchorED is to provide patients with access to recovery supports that fit their needs and to reduce costs by minimizing the re-occurrence of overdoses and visits to the hospital for substance use related issues. Since its inception, 88% of patients seen by AnchorED recovery coaches have engaged in community recovery supports. Early data show a promising trend toward long-term benefits.
AnchorED is the first program of its kind in the nation. As persons in recovery themselves, recovery coaches provide one-on-one peer support that incorporates a personal connection that other healthcare resources cannot do. With 88% of those patients who interacted with a recovery coach engaged in recovery supports, AnchorED has proven to be quite successful. Having a recovery coach respond to local hospitals serves as an immediate link to vital recovery, behavioral health, health and wellness and other supportive services. This allows patients to look beyond their hospitalization and towards a network of critical multi-disciplinary resources. AnchorED connects patients to recovery community centers where they are with others in recovery that can support, listen and understand. Being surrounded by people who have shared life experiences gives patients a sense of belonging, community and commitment and empowers patients to succeed in their recovery.
Led by The Providence Center (TPC) and James Gillen, Director of Recovery Support Services, along with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and the Directors of Rhode Island’s Department of Health and Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, a group of leaders of the recovery support community reviewed and strengthened AnchorEd’s design. Their innovative leadership and dedication has encouraged providers in the state to look at opioid overdose differently. As Rhode Island's largest community-based behavioral healthcare organization, TPC is in a position to lead the state's recovery efforts with our AnchorED program as a model. Newly partnered with one of Rhode Island's premiere medical networks, Care New England, TPC has built collaborations with other organizations in order to better serve those impacted by behavioral health issues. TPC’s experienced staff, knowledgeable resources, and recovery coaches can provide insight, education and leadership to others interested in implementing a similar approach.
Start-up funding for the program is provided by the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals. Additionally, The Providence Center (TPC) has had success securing reimbursement for recovery coaches' services through one insurer. TPC is working with other insurance providers to move towards a system that includes recovery support services as a part of the menu of covered options. Currently in six hospitals, TPC is in the process of implementing AnchorED in additional hospitals in the state. Medical providers who have utilized AnchorED have indicated that they feel better equipped to respond to patients due to their experience with the AnchorED program. Medical providers see recovery in action and recognize that they cannot provide the peer empowerment that patients need in order to succeed. The buy-in and support from medical providers and community leaders that TPC has seen over the past year is key to program sustainability.
The use of recovery coaches ensures that patients are connected with a wide array of supports and creates an efficient and comprehensive wrap-around approach to recovery. Medical providers are able to obtain essential medical information about their patients, offer specialized supports that meet their patient's needs and encourage their patients during their recovery. Providers are able to understand their patient's healthcare needs from a holistic perspective; enhancing a patient’s overall wellbeing and increasing their health and wellness. Recovery coaches can be easily replicated in other medical institutions across the nation with collaboration among hospitals, community-based behavioral health organizations and recovery community centers. When medical providers recognize that recovery includes every part of the patient, recovery coaches become an integral part of the overall system of care. Working with community agencies allows hospitals to benefit from the services of recovery coaches without the need to invest in training, orientation and certification.
Between July 2014 and December 2014, 80 patients were seen at three local hospitals by certified recovery coaches. 71 of those patients engaged in recovery supports. Data are collected in post-support self-surveys completed by both the patient and the recovery coach. The patient survey includes questions around previous treatment and overdoses. Recovery coaches keep statistics on the supports they provide patients including referrals, follow-up interactions and other pertinent statistics related the patient's experience. Anchor Recovery Community Centers also keep data on the number of people who visit the center for various recovery supports. In 2013, 1,520 people visited an Anchor Recovery Community Center. Of those, 55% of them came back to the Center multiple times. The statistics and survey responses for AnchorED and Anchor Recovery Community Centers are encouraging and show that people who utilize these programs gain access to recovery supports and feel supported during their recovery efforts.