In 2020, 52% of respondents of the Sheboygan County Community Health Survey cited illegal drug use as the top health issue facing Sheboygan County. In 2021, HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital Emergency Department in Sheboygan expanded its emergency services to include an opioid recovery program. The project is funded by a $134,499 grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) administered by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Care and Treatment Services.
In order to enhance local emergency services and better meet the needs of Sheboygan and its surrounding communities, HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital Emergency Department has developed additional processes and protocols so patients can be assessed anytime, day or night. This is for those who may be overdosing, withdrawing or just ready to start recovery from heroin or pain pills. Those seeking help may be started on a lifesaving medication to aid them on their path to recovery and are connected with recovery coaches from Wisconsin Recovery Community Organization. The medical team at HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital Emergency Department then coordinates treatment for the patient with the appropriate treatment center.
Patients seeking help with their addiction are offered long-term recovery options. A buprenorphine treatment is administered, which is a lifesaving medication and acts as a long-term treatment option. From there, patients are connected to a recovery coach from the Wisconsin Recovery Community Organization where they can seek support and have guidance on their path to recovery.
National experts in addiction medicine, as well as local experts in emergency care, addiction medicine, psychiatry, mental health, primary care, and those working in the recovery community, collaborated to develop this improved offering at HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital.
Since the program’s inception, 24 patients have begun buprenorphine treatments to begin their journey to getting their life back.