Prior to 2016, EMS and emergency departments were quite limited in what they could do for opioid overdose patients. Often they were left with the unsatisfying job of medically clearing them and then sending them out the door.

In an effort to address the growing epidemic of opioid overdoses and deaths in Indianapolis, Project POINT was developed to provide outreach, intervention, and treatment to patients suffering from an acute opioid overdose. “For 20 years the healthcare system has treated drug use as the moral failing of individual patients,” said Krista Brucker, Eskenazi Health physician. “We’ve judged and stigmatized and a lot of people have died unnecessarily.”

The implementation of a multi-disciplinary team approach would aim to break the addiction cycle. Initially funded by a small grant from Drug Free Marion County a multidisciplinary team was formed to acutely intervene on overdose patients brought to the Michael & Susan Smith Emergency Department at Eskenazi Health. The team consists of a CORE social worker, addiction councilor, peer recovery coach, and addiction psychiatrist. During the day a peer recovery coach will meet with the patient bedside in the emergency deparment to do an assessment and to make sure they have all the resources needed for recovery. The peer recovery coach will also continue to follow the patient through their recovery process. During the evening an overdose patient will meet with an addiction councilor for an assessment of readiness for change. The addiction councilor is also the project coordinator and oversees the grant. Although the social worker has no direct patient contact they provide clinical supervision to the peer recovery coach and will provide additional resources. As the overdose patient is released from the Michael & Susan Smith Emergency Department and commits to treatment, they will meet with an addiction psychiatrist at Eskenazi Health Midtown Community Mental Health for medication and intake. This pilot program was expanded in January 2017 thanks to a large grant from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation.

The goal of Project POINT is to link people to treatment and services, address specific barriers the patient may have to treatment and collect data for improvement and eventual dissemination. In the end, the ultimate goal is to reach the addict when they are most vulnerable and attempt to break the cycle of addiction. This is the time when their addiction has almost ended their life and they are more receptive to rehabilitation and life style changes.