Commissioner Navarro Partners with Aquila to Distribute Overdose Medication

Will provide Naloxone kits and training at Seaford event

Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, the Town of Seaford, and Aquila Behavioral Health of Delaware have joined forces to deliver life-saving overdose reversal medication to residents on July 27 from 4:00 to 6:00PM at Williams Pond Park. Free opioid rescue kits provided by the Division of Public Health, will be distributed car-side to attendees along with trainings of how the product should be used. Each kit has two doses of Naloxone.

“I am proud to join Aquila in offering life-saving overdose reversal kits to residents. For individuals who are facing the struggle of addiction, or those who have family members or friends in this fight, a naloxone kit is a must-have. For those in this situation, having naloxone on hand is like having an airbag in your vehicle – we hope that you won’t need to use it, but it is important to have one because it could save a life” said Commissioner Navarro.

Coverage for mental health has been a priority of the Commissioner. Efforts include working with the General Assembly and insurers to require coverage for serious mental illnesses including addiction, creating Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act reporting requirements, and ensuring that medication-assisted treatment for those with drug and alcohol dependencies can be accessible.

The event comes as the Delaware is seeing increased overdose rates during the coronavirus pandemic, with 39 suspected overdose deaths in May, tying the highest monthly total. As of the end of May, 160 suspected overdose deaths have occurred in Delaware, a 60% increase over a similar period of 2019.

“Aquila is pleased to partner with the Insurance Commissioner and the Town of Seaford to ensure Naloxone gets into the hands and homes of all individuals who may need it to keep their loved ones safe – we know that nobody chooses addiction, and by making this opioid reversal drug available, we can give individuals another chance to get treatment. Thank you to Public Health for continuing to provide these kits to the community,” said Amy Kevis, Director of Development for Aquila Behavioral Health of Delaware. Aquila provides comprehensive psychiatric and substance abuse treatment statewide. Learn more by calling (302) 999-1106.

The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health launched the 24/7 Hope line to serve as a single point of contact for resources, info, clinical and peer support, and crisis assistance. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, do not wait, find help today. Call 1-833-9-HOPEDE or visit HelpisHereDE.com.

Any residents having problems obtaining insurance approval for treatment or prescriptions related to substance abuse or mental health needs, contact the Delaware Department of Insurance’s Consumer Services Division by emailing consumer@delaware.gov or calling (302) 674-7300.

Event attendees and media representatives must observe social distancing and wear a face covering.


Sussex County Bridge Clinic to Help Individuals, Families Impacted by Mental Illness, Opioid Use Disorder

NEW CASTLE (July 11, 2019) – As a new support for individuals and families impacted by the effects of mental health and substance use issues, the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) officially will open the Sussex County Bridge Clinic on July 15 at the Promise Access Center in Georgetown, providing screening and referrals to treatment, as well as additional services. The Sussex County clinic joins a similar clinic in New Castle County, which opened in March near New Castle.

The Sussex County Bridge Clinic, which is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, is available to all Delaware residents at the Thurman Adams State Service Center, 546 S. Bedford St., Georgetown. The clinic’s services, which do not require an appointment, include:

  • Screening and referrals to treatment.
  • Evaluations conducted by qualified, licensed clinicians.
  • Guidance navigating the care network.
  • Training for administering naloxone, an overdose-reversal medication.
  • Transportation to and from the facility may be available.
  • All services made available regardless of ability to pay.

“In opening this Sussex County Bridge Clinic, we are providing rapid access to qualified clinicians who can help individuals and their families to understand what type of treatment is needed for loved ones and how to engage with the treatment system,” said Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “For too many Delaware families in the throes of a behavioral health crisis, they can be overwhelmed simply by trying to navigate the system. The Bridge Clinic provides an in-person starting point.”

Secretary Walker said the opening of the new 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.

“Our bridge team leads with care and commitment,” said DSAMH Director Elizabeth Romero. “Persistence is a core principle, and they will never give up helping a client along their journey to recovery.”

For more information, call the Sussex County Bridge Clinic at 302-515-3310.

To reach the New Castle County Bridge Clinic at 14 Central Ave., New Castle (just off U.S. 13), call 302-255-1650.


Governor Carney signs “Mental Health Parity” Legislation

Senate Bill 230 addresses first recommendation of Behavioral Health Consortium’s Action Plan

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Wednesday signed Senate Bill 230 beside members of the General Assembly, Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long and the Behavioral Health Consortium, and other mental health and addiction advocates.

“I am proud to sign this bill into law, a concrete step to assist Delawareans dealing every day with mental illness and drug and alcohol dependency,” said Governor John Carney. “This legislation recognizes that mental health and drug or alcohol dependency benefits should be treated the same as medical benefits. Thank you to Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long for her leadership on this issue with the Behavioral Health Consortium, and to all of the advocates who helped with this legislation.”

Senate Bill 230, also known as Mental Health Parity, is a critical step to eliminating coverage discrimination in Delaware and mandating certain reporting requirements that will allow the state to determine if health insurance carriers and Medicaid managed care organizations are applying treatment limitations which may prevent someone from accessing care for their addiction or mental illness. The legislation will help ensure compliance with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, passed by United States Congress in 2008, in order to ensure fair access to behavioral health treatment and making sure that those who need help can receive it.

“For far too long, people struggling with addiction and mental illness have not been treated fairly when it comes to getting the quality health care they need and deserve,” said Lt. Governor Hall-Long. “That ends now. This legislation is an important step to knocking down the barriers to treatment and eliminating stigma. I am thrilled we are enacting the first recommendation of the Behavioral Health Consortium’s Three Year Action Plan today.”

Lt. Governor Hall-Long, and members of the consortium, worked closely with former U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy on this legislation.

“I applaud Governor Carney for signing Senate Bill 230, which represents a major step forward in ending coverage discrimination against those with mental health and addiction challenges in Delaware,” said Patrick Kennedy, Founder of the Kennedy Forum. “Make no mistake: This new law will save lives. By forcing health plans to submit proof of their compliance with parity laws, Senate Bill 230 shifts the burden back to insurance companies and away from families in crisis. I would particularly like to thank Lieutenant Governor Hall-Long, whom I worked closely with on this bill, for her outstanding leadership, as well as Representative Bentz, Senator Townsend, and Senator Henry for helping to expand access to treatment.”

Senate Bill 230 requires health insurance issuers to complete an initial analysis, and submit a report to the Department of Insurance and the Delaware Health Information Network.

“Mental health and substance abuse disorders are among the greatest public health challenges that our country and our state face,” said Senator Bryan Townsend, prime sponsor of Senate Bill 230. “It’s important for our entire health care system, from public policy to commercial insurance, to respond to that challenge by demonstrating that we value mental health just as much as physical health and that parity is a standard we take seriously in Delaware. I’m thankful to the Lt. Governor for her advocacy on this issue and to Gov. Carney for signing this bill into law.”

“The Behavioral Health Consortium gives us the opportunity to take a deep dive into Delaware’s challenges as they relate to behavioral and mental health. I thank Lt. Gov Hall-Long for her leadership on these issues,” said Representative David Bentz. “Senate Bill 230 was a collaborative effort that increases reporting of insurance coverage for mental and behavioral health in an effort to help us get a clear picture of the care in our state. Addiction is a disease – like cancer or heart disease – and we should be doing what we can to combat it and help those who struggle.”

Stakeholders, such as the Ability Network of Delaware and NAMI Delaware, were also heavily involved in the passage of this legislation.

“Ultimately, real parity breaks down the final barrier to stigma,” said Carolyn Petrak, Associate Executive Director of the Ability Network of Delaware.  “When insurers cover mental health and substance use disorders in an unbiased measure and those seeking treatment need not weigh the cost maybe then, the barriers that stigma creates start to crumble.”

“Already there is significant stigma about mental health conditions. Only about half of the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental illness seek treatment each year,” said Anne Slease, Director of Advocacy & Education for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Delaware. “Overcoming the stigma is a big obstacle. Paying the bill shouldn’t have to be.”

Click HERE for photos from the bill signing.

 

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Secretary Walker Announces Appointments of Directors for Divisions of Substance Abuse and Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Services

NEW CASTLE (Jan. 10, 2018) – Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Dr. Kara Walker announced two appointments of directors to lead the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health and the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services.

Elizabeth Romero, who formerly served as Senior Director for Health Improvement with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) in Arlington, Va., was appointed to lead the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH). Romero, who lives in Middletown, started in her new position on Nov. 27.

“With more than 15 years as a public health professional, Elizabeth brings critical skills and talents to DSAMH that will help us continue to respond to the opioid epidemic and to build on our strong network of community-based mental health services,” Secretary Walker said. “She also has an extraordinary sense of compassion for Delawareans in need of our services.”

During her time at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Romero’s duties and accomplishments include oversight of behavioral health, injury, and substance abuse and chronic disease health teams with a focus on building systems of care to improve population and community outcomes. She also provided capacity-building assistance to more than 49 state and territorial health departments and national partners to support policies and evidence-based practices for substance abuse prevention.

In previous positions, Romero worked for Nemours Health and Prevention Services in Newark, the National Association for State Boards of Education, AED/FHI 360, and the Harvard Prevention Research Center at the Harvard School of Public Health. She has a bachelor’s of science degree from Boston University and a master’s of science degree from the University of Oregon.

Secretary Walker also announced the appointment of Damaris Piliro, who most recently served as Chief Operating Officer of SERV Behavioral Health, which has overall responsibility for intellectual and developmental disabilities division services for all counties in New Jersey, as the new Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDDS). Piliro will begin her new duties Jan. 29.

“With more than 20 years of progressive operations and leadership experience, Damaris has spent most of her career working in support of people with developmental disabilities,” Secretary Walker said. “That is the kind of hands-on leadership she will bring to serving Delawareans with developmental disabilities and their families, and working with providers, advocates and community partners.”

At SERV Behavioral Health, Piliro led and directed a division with a $30 million annual budget that serves adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities across New Jersey in group homes, day habilitation programs, through in-home supports and in adult foster care. Besides her experience at SERV Behavioral Health, Piliro also served for two years at Chief Operating Officer of Generations Home Care in New Castle, where she was in charge of the organization’s overall planning, development, administration and evaluation. Previously, she worked in various director roles at Loving Care Agency, New Jersey Mentor, Bayada Nurses and the Brain Injury Program at Beechwood-New Jersey.

Piliro has a master’s of business administration in health care management from the University of Phoenix’s Philadelphia Campus and a bachelor of arts from Rutgers University in psychology.

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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.


LEGISLATIVE ADVISORY: Governor Carney, Lawmakers Expand Access to Medical Marijuana for Delawareans with PTSD

Senate Bill 24, signed this week, will improve access to treatment for Delaware veterans

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney this week signed into law Senate Bill 24, which will expand access to medical marijuana treatment for Delaware veterans, and other Delawareans, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The legislation was sponsored by Senator Margaret Rose Henry, Representative Paul Baumbach, and Representative Helene Keeley, and passed the General Assembly with support from members of both parties. It removes the requirement that a psychiatrist must authorize a patient with PTSD to access medical marijuana – making the process consistent with patients suffering from other debilitating conditions treatable by medical marijuana in Delaware.

“This is a common sense, and compassionate amendment to Delaware’s medical marijuana law that will expand access to treatment for Delaware veterans and others who live every day with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Governor Carney. “Thank you to Senator Henry, Representative Baumbach, Representative Keeley, and all members of the General Assembly for their leadership on this issue.”

Read Governor Carney’s full Legislative Advisory #9, and for all legislative advisories, visit the Governor’s website.