Independence Blue Cross President & CEO Daniel Hilferty announces new Foundation partnership to examine “warm-handoff” protocols and effectiveness
Philadelphia, PA — May 23, 2017 — The Independence Blue Cross Foundation (Foundation) today hosted a forum on the state’s opioid epidemic that brought together Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and regional health care leaders to raise awareness about this public health issue and address the growing problem.
The program featured an expert panel that looked at strategies for stemming opioid abuse and fatalities, such as “warm-handoffs” – when an overdose survivor is transferred directly from an emergency room into a treatment program.
At the forum, Independence president and CEO Daniel Hilferty announced that the Foundation, through its Supporting Treatment and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Initiative, will partner with Public Health Management Corporation to conduct a study of the warm-handoff protocol established at five Bucks County hospitals via the Bucks County Connect-Assess-Refer-Engage-Support (B-CARES) Program. The study’s intent is to develop a best practice model that can replicated in other PA counties and throughout the nation.
“The toll of addiction and overdose is stunning in Philadelphia and across the nation,” Hilferty said. “We are fully engaged in battling this epidemic on several fronts: through education and public awareness efforts, by influencing safe prescribing of opioids by physicians, and by ensuring appropriate access to treatment for our members.”
“We need an all hands on deck approach to this crisis, from law enforcement and doctors to treatment providers and insurers,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “While much more needs to be done, I’m grateful to Independence Blue Cross for convening today’s meeting and for their work supporting opioid abuse prevention, research and treatment.”
Drug overdose deaths in the five-county region increased by 30 percent from 2015 to 2016, and in Philadelphia, overdose deaths nearly doubled from 2013 to 2016. More than 900 people died from drug overdoses in Philadelphia last year. The Foundation, through its STOP initiative, is increasing awareness about the opioid epidemic and improving access to opioid abuse prevention and treatment in southeastern PA through a variety of strategies and regional partnerships, such as:
- Enabling Community Partners: Supporting treatment and prevention programs, including the Moyer Foundation’s Camp Mariposa – a national addiction prevention and mentoring program for children affected by a family member’s substance abuse.
- Nurse Engagement and Education: Convening national nurse leaders and academic nursing partners to double the number of nursing schools in the region that will integrate the Centers for Disease Control’s safe prescribing guidelines. The Foundation is also hosting workshops with national health policy experts to improve clinic engagement and disseminate best practices.
- Emergency Room “Warm Handoff” Programs: Evaluating the effectiveness of using the emergency room setting to connect a drug overdose survivor with an immediate referral to addiction treatment. The Foundation’s research will strengthen warm handoff programs in the region and result in recommendations for best practices and a replicable, scalable model nationally.
- Prescription Drug Takeback Programs: Supporting the Pennsylvania Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs efforts to increase availability, awareness and accessibility to drug take back locations. Last year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania collected nearly 44,000 pounds of unwanted medicines.
About the Independence Blue Cross Foundation:
The Independence Blue Cross Foundation is a charitable, private foundation, whose mission is leading solutions for a healthier community. The Foundation targets the following areas of impact:
- Securing the Blue Safety Net: Strengthening the safety net of private, nonprofit health centers that provide access to quality, affordable health care in medically underserved areas.
- Bolstering the Health Care Workforce: Advancing the nursing workforce through education and professional development.
- Addressing Health Priorities: Finding local solutions to national health issues through research and cross-sector partnerships. Currently focusing on the opioid epidemic through the Supporting Treatment and Overdose Prevention (STOP) initiative.
- Building Healthier Communities: Enabling nonprofits to address diverse community health and wellness needs.
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