Baltimore City Officials Announce Initiative with Hospitals to Improve Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Levels of Care Proposal Open for Public Comment

BALTIMORE (April 30, 2018) — Today, Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen joined the leadership of all 11 Baltimore City hospitals to announce a new initiative focused on implementing and recognizing best practices for responding to the opioid epidemic within the City’s hospitals.

The Mayor and the Baltimore City Health Department brought together the City’s 11 hospitals to announce the Levels of Care for Baltimore City Hospitals Responding to the Opioid Epidemic. The Levels of Care initiative involves identifying best practices for responding to the opioid epidemic and publicly recognizing those hospitals that successfully implement them. Developed with active input from hospitals, the levels will be scored on numerous evidence-based criteria, such as hospitals’ ability to provide treatment to patients who screen positive for addiction, distribute naloxone to patients, connect patients with peers or other support services, and ensure physicians are prescribing opioids judiciously. The levels are 1 to 3—the higher the level, the more comprehensive a hospital’s response. This is based on a similar initiative in Rhode Island, one of few places where overdose deaths went down in 2017.

“Among Baltimore's greatest assets is Baltimore’s unparalleled hospital system which, arguably, is the finest in the world," said Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. "I am calling on the leaders and medical professionals of our hospitals to join us in fighting the opioid crisis which continues to claim far too many lives not only in our community, but across our nation. This is a national health crisis and it needs to be treated with the advanced medical resources that we know can be effective and which for sure will save lives."

Baltimore City has approached the opioid crisis aggressively with many innovative programs and initiatives, including issuing a standing order that provides a blanket prescription of naloxone to all City residents; launching the state’s first Stabilization Center; piloting a program allowing those arrested for low-level drug offenses to choose treatment over incarceration (L.E.A.D.); and targeting outreach and naloxone distribution to overdose “hotspots.” Through the Health Department’s convenings, with the dedicated leadership of hospitals, the funding from the state and federal governments, and the expertise of the Mosaic Group, Baltimore’s hospitals have implemented interventions such as medication-assisted treatment in emergency departments, peer recovery specialists, and screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment.

“Hospitals alone cannot end this epidemic, but it cannot be ended without them,” said Dr. Leana Wen. “Addiction is a disease and treatment exists. Together, we will build upon the work that’s already been done and make Baltimore City a national model for treating addiction alongside every other disease. That means treating addiction in our traditional health care institutions, including hospitals.”

The Health Department has opened the project for public comment through May 31st, 2018. Residents can access the department’s proposal at health.baltimorecity.gov.

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