Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary Jen Smith recently visited Reading Hospital – Tower Health to highlight the success of the Warm Handoff program. The program, a collaborative effort between the hospital, COCA, Treatment Access and Service Center (TASC), provides treatment intervention to patients presenting signs of substance use disorders.
“At a time when we’re seeing a staggering increase in the number of overdose deaths, warm handoff programs play a critical role in strengthening Pennsylvania’s drug and alcohol system,” said DDAP Secretary Jen Smith. “Warm Handoff programs, like the successful one here at Reading Hospital, show how compassion and appropriate resources can save lives.”
According to a press release issued by the state, Warm Handoff programs have been implemented in 160 Pennsylvania hospitals, since January 2017, and have referred more than 16,000 individuals to treatment. This includes 6,931 Warm Handoff encounters from January to April of 2021. At Reading Hospital nearly 5,000 Warm Handoff patients have been seen since 2017, with more than 60 percent accepting and entering treatment immediately.
Charles F. Barbera, MD, Vice President at Tower Health, credits COCA’s partnership for the success of the program.
“With COCA’s support and collaboration, we are able to provide Certified Recovery Staff in the Reading Hospital Emergency Department 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Access to this critical life-saving care can be the difference between life and death for the members of our community. We’ve been fortunate to see how lives are changing for the better when our patients are offered rehabilitation services immediately after an overdose,” said Barbera.
Watch a video from Secretary Smith’s visit: