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Upstate University Hospital augments opioid addiction treatment

Provider efforts to curb opioid addiction while still offering effective pain management services are increasingly complicated. Noting that it was seeing more patients admitted to Upstate University Hospital’s pain service who were concurrently suffering from opioid addiction, Upstate University Hospital addressed this treatment obstacle by creating a new position: opioid use/IV drug use nurse practitioner, currently filled by Theresa Baxter, NP.

The position assists Upstate’s medical staff with identifying opioid addiction, managing medication and helping coordinate long-term treatment options. Patients who might have opioid use disorder are evaluated and may be able to receive buprenorphine while in the hospital to curb opioid withdrawal symptoms. Post-hospitalization, Upstate secures outpatient treatment plans for these patients and connects them with peer support specialists through Helio Health and Onondaga County Peer Specialists. Peer support specialists are in long-term recovery from substance use disorder and have had special training to work with people with substance use disorder, providing support and connections to treatment, housing, insurance and more.

This specialty care has helped decrease length of stay and readmissions while improving long-term outcomes at Upstate, according to Ms. Baxter. Since starting the position, she has seen more than 100 patients – many of whom have entered long-term recovery.

For more information, contact Emily Kulkus, assistant director, public and media relations, at kulkuse@upstate.edu.