DHSS Partners with Google, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to Bring Online Resources to Delaware Families

WILMINGTON (Nov. 21, 2019) – The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and Google have launched a first-in-the-nation partnership to bring needed resources to Delaware families looking for help online for a loved one struggling with substance use disorder.

DHSS will work with Partnership and Google to identify communication strategies aimed at increasing online awareness of available treatment and recovery services for Delaware families. These strategies are designed to connect individuals struggling with behavioral health issues and their families to resources as quickly as possible and, in many cases, to do so in real-time.

“Helping families find that connection to care for their loved ones when they need it most is one of the most important things we can do in state government,” Delaware Governor John Carney said. “I am grateful to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and Google for their collaboration to serve families in need across our state.”

“We’re honored to support the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and DHSS in their work supporting Delaware families impacted by substance abuse,” said Google Director Adam Barea. “We hope this pilot will help more families have access to quality online resources and put more Delawareans on the path to recovery.”

“We are honored to be working with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and Google to help those struggling with substance use in Delaware,” said Fred Muench, president of Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, which recently merged with Center on Addiction. “We know that families in Delaware are using Google to search for help for their loved ones and we are proud to be part of an effort to get them the credible information and support that they need.”

In 2018, the number of Delawareans using Google to search for information on substance use ranked in the top 10 of all U.S. states. Additionally, Delaware ranks first in the U.S. for Google searches of methadone, a medication used to help people suffering from opioid use disorder to stave off withdrawal and cravings.

The launch comes just before the holiday season, which can be a particularly difficult time for individuals and their families struggling with addiction. Because of the added pressure of family gatherings, substance use often escalates, relapses occur, and many states, including Delaware, often see a spike in overdoses and overdose deaths.

Google will provide $500,000 to the Partnership as well as in-kind technical assistance to the Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH). The technical assistance will help connect Delawareans with quality resources for those suffering from substance use disorder as well as for their caregivers – such as the Partnership’s helpline. It also includes the production of a series of videos featuring testimonials from Delawareans impacted by the addiction epidemic.

“Every day, we see the horrible toll that the opioid epidemic takes on Delaware families and families across the country,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “This new collaboration with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and Google will bring critical online resources to Delaware families when the need is most urgent. When someone is ready to begin treatment, that connection to care is one of the most important moments in the journey to recovery.”

A Wilmington father, whose son is now in recovery, knows how difficult it can be to make that connection. “In addition to having 19 years of sobriety, for 25 years I have helped hospitals and providers develop better patient engagement and improved outcomes through health care technology,” said Mike Lang of Wilmington. “If anyone was equipped to navigate the complexities of today’s health care, it was me. I learned just how difficult it was to navigate our health care system during a family crisis when my son overdosed. This initial crisis marked the beginning of a three-year recovery journey.”

In 2017, Delaware ranked sixth in the nation in drug overdose death rates, with most of those deaths directly linked to opioids – including heroin, prescription opioids and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more powerful than heroin. Last year alone, Delaware lost 400 lives to overdose, marking an increase of 16% in overdose deaths from 2017. Nearly three in four of those deaths involved fentanyl. The state is on pace to lose a similar number of lives to overdose in 2019.

To be connected to treatment and recovery resources in Delaware or nearby states, individuals and families also can visit DHSS’ clearinghouse website for services, HelpIsHereDE.com.


DHSS Awarded $3.58 Million Federal Grant to Increase Addiction Treatment Capacity Among Medicaid Providers

NEW CASTLE (Sept. 26, 2019) – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently awarded the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services a $3.58 million planning grant to increase the treatment capacity of Medicaid providers to deliver substance use disorder treatment and recovery services to Delawareans in need.

Delaware was one of 15 states to receive the 18-month planning grants to increase addiction-related services through:

• An ongoing assessment of the SUD treatment needs of the state.
• Recruitment, training and technical assistance for Medicaid providers who offer SUD treatment or recovering services.
• Improved reimbursement for and expansion of the number or treatment capacity of Medicaid providers.

“We are grateful to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for providing this technical assistance to Delaware during the ongoing opioid crisis,” Gov. John Carney said. “We also appreciate the members of our congressional delegation supporting this critical work to increase our treatment capacity of Medicaid providers statewide.”

Counseling is an important component of treatment for addiction.

“With one in every four Delawareans being a Medicaid recipient, the need for treatment and recovery support is critical to stem this epidemic,” said Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long. “The Behavioral Health Consortium is pleased we have our congressional delegation partnering with us to get more boots on the ground to save lives and expand care.”

“As our country continues to grapple with a deadly opioid epidemic, it is critical that we continue working to ensure that all those suffering from addiction have access to the life-saving treatment they need,” U.S. Sen. Tom Carper said. “By providing additional training and resources to Medicaid providers for substance use disorder treatment, we can help ensure that more Delawareans, regardless of their means or what community they live in, receive high-quality care.”

“As opioid-related deaths reach epidemic levels in Delaware and across the country, we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to stop this crisis. Already this year, we’ve lost over 200 Delawareans to suspected overdose deaths,” Sen. Chris Coons said. “This grant will allow the Department of Health and Social Services, along with Medicaid providers throughout the state, to focus on keeping our communities safe and bolstering our substance abuse treatment workforce.”

“Expanding treatment capacity and increasing resources to Medicaid providers is one of the most effective ways to combat the opioid epidemic in Delaware,” said U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester. “These resources from CMS will be crucial in continuing to improve our addiction treatment and ultimately, save lives.”

The Medicaid planning grant helps to meet priorities for Delaware’s treatment system outlined in 2018 recommendations from researchers and clinicians at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In April 2017, DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker had asked Johns Hopkins to conduct a review of Delaware’s addiction treatment system. In July 2018, the Johns Hopkins team issued a 33-page report that proposed four main strategies:

• Increase the capacity of the treatment system.
• Engage high-risk populations in treatment.
• Create incentives for quality care.
• Use data to guide reform and monitor progress.

“Across our country, Medicaid is the largest payer of addiction treatment services,” Secretary Walker said. “In Delaware, this planning grant will help us increase the capacity for Medicaid-provided treatment and recovery services for vulnerable people who are suffering from this chronic and complex brain disease.”

Dr. Elizabeth Brown, Medical Director for the Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance, said the funding will be used for data analysis, a rate review and reimbursement redesign, expanding the provider pool, and stakeholder engagement.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder, please call DHSS’ 24/7 Crisis Services Helpline to be connected to trained crisis professionals who can discuss treatment options. In New Castle County, call 1-800-652-2929. In Kent and Sussex counties, call 1-800-345-6785. Individuals and families also can visit DHSS’ website, www.HelpIsHereDE.com, to find addiction treatment and recovery services in Delaware and nearby states.

As of Sept. 24, the Division of Forensic Science has reported a total of 209 suspected overdose deaths in Delaware this year. There is always a lag in terms of both toxicology analyses and death determinations. In 2018, there were 400 overdose deaths across the state, an increase of 16 percent from the 2017 total of 345 deaths.

-30-

The Department of Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of life of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.


Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, DHSS Bring New Statewide Resources for Families in Crisis

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) and Partnership for Drug-Free Kids are collaborating to bring dedicated, science-based resources and support to Delaware families. The two entities will work together to provide innovative, digital resources and one-on-one support to parents and caregivers as they help a loved one struggling with opioids or other substances.

With 192 overdose deaths occurring in the U.S. every day, underscored by a vast majority of people unable to access treatment, the combined effort between DHSS and Partnership for Drug-Free Kids aims to be a vital part of an integrated solution to affect statewide change.

In 2017, Delaware ranked sixth in the nation in drug overdose death rates, with most of these deaths directly linked to opioids, including heroin, prescription opioids and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more powerful than heroin. Last year alone, Delaware lost 400 lives to overdose, marking an increase of 16% in overdose deaths from 2017 – and almost 3 in 4 of those deaths involved fentanyl.

“With thousands of Delawareans and their families continuing to be impacted by the disease of addiction, we need collaborations like this one with Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to offer critical support for parents and other caregivers,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a board-certified and practicing family physician. “We need to listen to the challenges that families face and help them find a path to recovery for their loved ones.”

“We are honored to partner with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services on this important project that will help close a gap in desperately needed support for Delaware families,” said Marcia Lee Taylor, Executive Vice President, External and Government Relations at Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. “Delaware has proven to be at the forefront of finding and adopting solutions to help those impacted by addiction. We are grateful to collaborate with a like-minded partner that understands the importance of bringing together a national family service infrastructure, coupled with local expertise and resources to make sure that more Delawareans get the help they need.”

This collaboration will be comprised of:

• A co-branded landing page tailored for Delaware families with resources, help and support.

• A dedicated Helpline for Delaware families (855-DRUG-FREE), where parents and other caregivers can connect with Parent Support Specialists who can listen to families’ challenges and help them develop an action plan that will help their child work toward recovery. Specialists will also be able to speak to state-specific issues like getting their loved one connected to treatment services through the START Initiative, finding needed clinical support through the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health’s Bridge Clinic, exploring treatment and recovery services at HelpIsHereDE.com, learning where naloxone is available and finding out how Delaware’s Good Samaritan Law works.

• Public service announcements (broadcast, radio, print and digital) to run in donated, pro-bono space thanks to the generosity of Delaware media.

“I’m pleased that families in Delaware will benefit from these best-in-class resources,” said Delaware Governor John Carney. “Across our state, I’ve heard from so many parents who are struggling to make that initial treatment connection for their adult children. Being able to provide parents with valuable, supportive and free resources will make a difference in their families’ lives.”

Josette Manning, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families said, “We see the impact of substance use in families across the lifespan, from substance-exposed infants to parents and grandparents struggling with addiction. We welcome any partnership that increases prevention efforts and treatment opportunities so our families can achieve positive outcomes.”

The collaboration between Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, DHSS and the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (DSCYF) complements ongoing work to increase treatment and recovery services, reduce harm and expand prevention efforts by DHSS’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental and Division of Public Health, and by the Behavioral Health Consortium, chaired by Delaware Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) has partnered with atTAcK addiction, a grassroots advocacy group led by parents impacted by addiction, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Delaware to train parents and other adults to handle Helpline calls.

“When I discovered that my son was struggling with heroin addiction, I didn’t know where to turn, or how to go about finding help for him. I never felt as helpless, hopeless and ashamed as I did during that time in my life,” said Belinda Wilson, a North Wilmington mom whose son is in now in recovery. “Finally, I was able to get my son the help he needed, but I realized I also needed support for my own self-care so that I would have the emotional and physical strength required to continue to help my son. Bringing these necessary resources to our state will help so many other families in Delaware, families like mine, have better outcomes for their loved ones who are struggling with substance use.”

For more information, visit https://drugfree.org/delaware.


Dementia Friendly Delaware to Support Those with Dementia, Their Families

Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long and the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities (DSAAPD) are hosting an event on Tuesday, April 30, in Dover to show what Dementia Friendly Delaware can offer for Delawareans living with dementia and their families.

Dementia Friendly Delaware (DFD) is a network of communities, organizations and individuals seeking to ensure that communities across Delaware are equipped to support people living with dementia and their caregivers. Dementia-friendly communities foster the ability of people living with dementia to remain in the community and engage and thrive in day-to-day living.

“As Delaware’s Lieutenant Governor, I am working with partners from around the state to take on our most pressing health care challenges, including behavioral health, in order to make Delaware a stronger and healthier place,” Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long said. “We all can join together to address these challenges. As awareness of dementia grows, we can take action to create dementia-friendly communities. Every part of the community, including your organization, has a unique role in supporting people with dementia and their family and friends.”

Delaware will offer a preview of the new Delaware Center for Alzheimer’s disease and Related Dementia (DECARD), a virtual hub for resources and information on dementia, at the April 30 event at the Blue Hen Corporate Center at 655 Bay Road, Dover. Delaware is looking for municipalities, corporations and organizations to take the lead and become dementia friendly. If you or your agency are interested, please attend this event to learn more. It starts at 1:30 p.m.

The DECARD site will host tools that organizations can use to support staff who are caring for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia or who have been diagnosed themselves. Trainings, videos and guides for different community sectors will also be available on the site, which will be the virtual home to Dementia Friendly Delaware. This is part of a larger initiative, Dementia Friendly America (DFA). Visit www.dfamerica.org to learn more about DFA.

DSAAPD, one of DHSS’ 11 divisions, advocates for, provides access to, and coordinates long-term services and supports in the most appropriate setting. For more information about DSAAPD, call the Aging and Disability Resource Center at 1-800-223-9074.

If you cannot attend the event but would still like more information, please contact Julie.Devlin@delaware.gov.

-30-

The Department of Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of life of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.


Delaware to Partner with Shatterproof to Develop Addiction Treatment Rating System Nationwide

NEW CASTLE (April 25, 2019) – The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) today announced that Delaware is one of five states selected to partner with the national nonprofit Shatterproof in the development of a new pilot rating system designed to measure quality in addiction treatment programs. Delaware was selected due to the work the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) has undertaken as part of the Substance Use Treatment and Recovery Transformation Initiative (START), which was launched in October 2018.

Under the START Initiative, DSAMH is currently tracking quality and clinical measures for addiction treatment across the state and then sharing that information with providers to help them improve their services. The partnership with Shatterproof, which was formed in 2012 to end the devastation addiction causes families, will enhance these efforts by providing a common set of measures for providers to benchmark themselves against, not just in Delaware but across the United States. The Shatterproof Rating System will also allow those seeking treatment for themselves or a loved one to see overall ratings via a free, public website increasing the transparency of the entire system.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to improve the quality of care for those suffering from addiction,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long, who chairs the Behavioral Health Consortium. “This partnership with Shatterproof is another leap forward for the START Initiative and will help ensure that Delawareans have a quality treatment system that works for them when they need it most.”

“The START Initiative was one of the first steps forward in embracing the recommendations of the Johns Hopkins report to strengthen the treatment system in our state,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a board-certified family physician. “Being selected by Shatterproof to participate in this pilot program will further the goal of the START Initiative to offer care that is high-quality, comprehensive, coordinated, evidence-based, and person-centered.”

The Shatterproof Rating System will be piloted in select states over two years. The three other participating states that have been announced are Louisiana, Massachusetts and New York. The pilot will apply public rating system best practices to the addiction treatment field by measuring the evidence-based elements of care delivery shown to improve patient outcomes. This information will be gathered from three sources: insurance claims, provider surveys, and consumer experience. The roughly $5 million pilot is funded by a coalition of Shatterproof’s stakeholders and none of the treatment programs in the rating system, or pilot states, will pay any cost or provide funding.

“This pilot dovetails perfectly with the work that we are engaged in and is only going to amplify our efforts,” said DSAMH Director Elizabeth Romero. “Our providers have been and will continue to be essential partners in this effort to improve Delaware’s treatment system.”

Providers were briefed on the Shatterproof Rating System and the pilot program at a meeting in April. The rating system will give treatment programs the opportunity to benchmark themselves against their peers throughout the state, target their quality improvement efforts, and offer transparency to patients seeking treatment.

Upon successful completion of the two-year pilot, the system will continue in the pilot states and a nationwide rollout will eventually establish the Shatterproof Rating System as the national standard for measuring the quality of behavioral health treatment.

“Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease that can be treated with the same effectiveness as other illnesses when using evidence-based best practices,” said Gary Mendell, Founder and CEO of Shatterproof. “Tragically, though, the quality of care varies widely among addiction treatment programs, and it’s difficult for individuals looking for care to identify high-quality programs. It is time that a standard be set across all addiction treatment, and that the entire system aligns behind evidence-based care.”

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction in Delaware, call DHSS’ 24/7 Crisis Hotline to be connected to treatment and recovery options. In New Castle County, call 1-800-652-2929. Or in Kent and Sussex counties, call 1-800-345-6785. To search online for treatment and recovery services in Delaware or nearby states, visit www.HelpIsHereDE.com.

-30-

The Department of Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of life of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.