DPH to Distribute Overdose-Reversing Medication Naloxone Friday, Sept. 6 in Millsboro

MILLSBORO  — In response to six suspected overdose deaths, including four in Sussex County, that occurred over the holiday weekend, the Division of Public Health (DPH) will hold a Community Naloxone Training and Distribution event in Millsboro on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. DPH will distribute free naloxone kits to members of the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Millsboro Fire Company, 109 East State St., Millsboro, DE 19966.

Each kit contains two doses of naloxone, and members of the community who attend these events will receive one-on-one training on how to administer the overdose-reversing medication. The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) will also have representatives on hand to answer any questions about access to treatment for those struggling with substance use disorder. 

“We know that 80 percent of overdoses happen in a residence,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “If family or friends of someone overdosing have naloxone immediately accessible, it can mean the difference between life or death for that person. We urge anyone who might ever have a need for access to naloxone to attend this distribution event, and also to download OpiRescue Delaware, a new smartphone app that provides lifesaving step-by-step instructions on how to respond to an overdose, including administration of naloxone.”

For more information about OpiRescue Delaware, go to HelpIsHereDE.com, and click on the overdose prevention tab.

Within three to five minutes after administration, naloxone can counteract the life-threatening respiratory depression of an opioid-related overdose and stabilize a person’s breathing, which buys time for emergency medical help to arrive. DPH recommends calling 9-1-1 immediately if you find someone in the midst of a suspected overdose, starting rescue breathing, and then administering naloxone. Naloxone is not a replacement for emergency medical care and seeking immediate help and follow-up care is still vital.

As of today, Sept. 5, the Division of Forensic Science has reported a total of 194 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. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranked Delaware as number six in the nation for overdose deaths in 2017.

In 2018, first responders administered 3,728 doses of naloxone, compared to 2,861 in 2017, a 30 percent increase.

Funding for the Community Naloxone Distribution Initiative comes from state funding built into DPH’s budget for the first time in state fiscal year 2019, thanks to the advocacy of Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long and the Behavioral Health Consortium.

Community access to naloxone has increased significantly since 2014, when legislation was enacted making it available to the public. In 2017, Governor John Carney signed additional legislation ensuring pharmacists had the same legal protections as doctors, peace officers and good Samaritans when dispensing the medicine without a prescription.

Information on pharmacy access and training for naloxone, along with resources regarding prevention, treatment and recovery, are available on HelpisHereDE.com.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


DHSS Receives Medicaid Substance Use Disorder Waiver from Federal Government

DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker says, “In the midst of the opioid crisis we are facing in Delaware and across the country, (these facilities) are another resource we can use to better serve our Medicaid clients in need of treatment for substance use disorder.”

NEW CASTLE (Aug. 5, 2019) – The Department of Health and Social Services received approval recently from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for a waiver amendment allowing DHSS to use federal Medicaid funding for addiction-related treatment of individuals in substance use disorder (SUD) treatment facilities known as IMDs.

Delaware was the 25th state to receive approval of the SUD waiver by CMS. Previously, federal Medicaid funds could not be used to pay for addiction-related services at IMDs (institutions for mental disease) for individuals ages 21 to 64. Before the waiver, Delaware’s Medicaid program used state funds to pay for addiction-related services provided to Medicaid clients at IMDs. There are four IMDs in Delaware that provide addiction-related services: SUN Behavioral Delaware near Georgetown; Dover Behavioral Health in Dover; MeadowWood Behavioral Health near New Castle; and Rockford Center near Newark.

The IMD exclusion, which prohibits the use of federal Medicaid funds for care provided to most patients in mental health and substance use disorder residential treatment facilities with more than 16 beds, had been part of Medicaid since its enactment in 1965. Delaware’s waiver applies only to addiction-related services for Medicaid clients.

“We are grateful to CMS for granting us this waiver,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “In the midst of the opioid crisis we are facing in Delaware and across the country, the IMDs are another resource we can use to better serve our Medicaid clients in need of treatment for substance use disorder.”

DHSS’ Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance (DMMA) also received approval from CMS for an extension of its Medicaid demonstration project, Diamond State Health Plan, along with its SUD waiver amendment. Both approvals are effective from Aug. 1, 2019, through Dec. 31, 2023.

“We are very pleased to have approval of our demonstration waiver and the added SUD expenditure authority,” Delaware Medicaid Director Steve Groff said. “This will allow all Medicaid beneficiaries in Delaware to have access to high-quality SUD care.”

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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.

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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.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health, Partners Open Bridge Clinic for Those Impacted by Mental Health, Addiction Issues

The Bridge Clinic, operated by DSAMH and community partners, offers services for people impacted by addiction and mental health issues.

NEW CASTLE (March 26, 2019) – As a new support for individuals and families impacted by the effects of mental health and substance use disorders, the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) and its partners have opened the Bridge Clinic near New Castle to provide screening and referrals to treatment, as well as additional services.

The Bridge Clinic, which is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, is available to all Delaware residents at 14 Central Ave., New Castle (just off U.S. 13). The clinic’s services, which do not require an appointment, include:

  • Screening and referrals to treatment for mental health and substance use disorders.
  • Access to on-site qualified, licensed clinicians.
  • Guidance navigating the care network.
  • Naloxone and naloxone training.
  • Transportation to and from the facility may be available.
  • All services made available regardless of ability to pay.

“The Bridge Clinic meets a need in our state to provide rapid access to qualified clinicians who can help individuals and their families to understand what treatment may be needed and how to engage with the treatment system,” said Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a board-certified family physician. “Sometimes, families don’t even know where to begin. The Bridge Clinic provides that starting point.”

Secretary Walker said the opening of the clinic helps to engage high-risk populations in treatment, one of four main recommendations from a team of researchers and clinicians at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In April 2017, Secretary Walker 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.

“The aim of the Bridge Clinic is to engage diverse communities across our state who are facing the challenges of an addiction or mental health issue,” said DSAMH Director Elizabeth Romero. “We are here – in the community – providing that place where individuals and families can go

when they aren’t sure where to turn for help. With our community partners, we are working to educate individuals and families, to bring awareness and to promote resources as part of the solution.”

For more information, call the Bridge Clinic at 302-255-1650.


DPH Launches Smartphone App Featuring Lifesaving Instructions to Reverse an Opioid Overdose

DOVER – As part of its multi-pronged approach to addressing the opioid crisis and reducing the number of individuals dying from drug overdoses in Delaware, the Division of Public Health (DPH) is announcing the launch of a new smartphone app that provides lifesaving step-by-step instructions on how to use naloxone during an opioid overdose.

OpiRescue Delaware is a free, state-supported app available for download on all Android and Apple devices. The app contains detailed information on how to recognize signs of an overdose, and includes animations on how to provide rescue breathing and administer naloxone, an overdose-reversing medication. Additionally, individuals can use the app to find the nearest available pharmacy carrying naloxone, which can be purchased without a prescription.

The app also includes an easy-to-navigate tab that links people to the state’s HelpIsHereDE.com website, which provides prevention, treatment and recovery resources for those struggling with addiction.

“About 80 percent of all overdoses happen in a private residence, whether it’s their own or someone else’s, which is why we are strongly encouraging friends, family members, and those struggling with opioid addiction not only to have naloxone on hand, but also to download this app, which will walk individuals through the steps of administering the medication and potentially save a life,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay.

Within three to five minutes after administration, naloxone can counteract the life-threatening respiratory depression of an opioid-related overdose and stabilize a person’s breathing, buying time for emergency medical help to arrive. DPH recommends calling 9-1-1 immediately if you find someone in the midst of a suspected overdose, starting rescue breathing, and then administering naloxone. Naloxone is not a replacement for emergency medical care and seeking immediate help and follow-up care is still vital.

There were at least 291 deaths last year in Delaware from suspected overdoses, according to the state’s Division of Forensic Science (DFS). Tragically, the final number is expected to exceed 400 after all toxicology screens are finished and final death determinations are made on outstanding cases by DFS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked Delaware number six in the nation for overdose mortality rate in 2017.

In 2018, first responders administered 3,728 doses of naloxone, compared to 2,861 in 2017, a 30 percent increase. The app will, for the first time, allow community members to report their opioid overdose rescue, which will provide state health officials with additional information on how naloxone is used in the community. No personal information will be collected as part of this process.

Community access to naloxone has increased significantly since 2014 when legislation was enacted making it available to the public. In 2017, Governor John Carney signed additional legislation ensuring pharmacists had the same legal protections as doctors, peace officers and good Samaritans when dispensing the medicine without a prescription.

To download the OpiRescue Delaware app, visit your mobile device app store or https://www.helpisherede.com/Get-Help/OpiRescue-App. Information on community training and pharmacy access to naloxone can be found at https://www.helpisherede.com/Get-Help/Overdose-Prevention.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.