Hospital News

New WMHS Center will assist individuals battling opioid addiction


Elaine Blaisdell, Cumberland Times News staff writer

CUMBERLAND — Western Maryland Health System [UPMC Western Maryland] will soon open a 24-hour community-based crisis and service center for those battling opioid addiction thanks in part to a $200,000 grant from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. “We focused on trying to get a community based organization that could make a difference on treating substance abuse disorders,” Mike Sullivan, senior director for External/ Internal Communications at CareFirst, said. “Western Maryland Health System [UPMC Western Maryland] created something in the community that doesn’t exist.”

The center, which will be located at 10700 Leslie Lane, will provide patients with access to a safe environment outside of the emergency department to receive crisis assessment, intervention and connection to resources. “Our initial planning efforts for the site and the new construction of the facility are progressing,” Kevin Turley, WMHS chief strategy officer, said. “We are currently working through the regulatory guidelines with the state of Maryland and anticipate moving forward with construction drawings and actual construction of the facility very soon.”

The center will be staffed around-the-clock with a licensed mental health professional and nurse, provide onsite services for primary and urgent care medical treatment needs and provide psychiatric and substance abuse medical treatment services and counseling. “The center will benefit the community tremendously,” Jeffery D. O’Neal, the health system’s executive director of Clinics, Practices and Behavioral Health Services, said. “The purpose of the residential crisis facility is to establish a setting in which individuals with mental health or substance abuse problems can have a safe place to reside for a short period of time.”

The center will have behavioral health peer recovery support specialists. “We are happy to fund it and the model they have is very promising,” Sullivan said. “Western Maryland Health System is using approaches that have been proven to work elsewhere. We want to give to programs that we feel have promise in the community and can really make an impact, this program looks like it can.” Patients in the facility will also receive assistance with addressing social determinants that can impact their ability to achieve treatment goals, O’Neal said.

WMHS applied for the grant in May 2017. In 2017, 157 individuals died in Western Maryland from an opioid- related overdose. The CareFirst grant will be received in increments of $100,000 for two years and will add staff in the Emergency Department, according to O’Neal. They will screen all patients for substance use disorders, he said. “The local Behavioral Health Service Organization has provided grant funding to provide furniture and equipment for the facility once it has been built,” Karen Johnson, chief development officer and executive director of the WMHS Foundation said. “The WMHS Foundation and the WMHS Auxiliary are also providing significant funding support for the project. WMHS is also exploring other funding options to cover some of the costs of construction, which the grant does not provide for.”

CareFirst has provided $119,750 to WHMS [UPMC Western Maryland] since 2006, including a $100,000 grant in 2016 to support Remote Tele-Patient Monitoring. WHMS [UPMC Western Maryland] successfully used CareFirst funding to leverage additional dollars and expand the program to more patients. The CareFirst grants provided in Western Maryland are projected to serve 91,000 patients in four counties over the next two years.