Bellin, DarJune Launch Peer Recovery Coaching

Coaches will work with patients in the emergency department for drug issues

Drug addictions affect millions of people in the U.S. with drug overdoses now the leading cause of death among Americans under age 50. Every day, emergency departments across the U.S. see an increasing number of patients who have overdosed on opioids and other drugs. 

With the help of a federal grant administered through Wisconsin Voices for Recovery, Bellin Health is now teaming up with DarJune Recovery Community to offer a new approach to helping those facing addiction. The grant will fund a program that trains and places Peer Recovery Coaches in the Bellin emergency department.

“The use of recovery coaches in the emergency department will help to bridge a gap that can be experienced by some patients and families after an overdose or other drug issues,” said Laura Hieb, Bellin’s chief nursing officer. “It’s another way of using community resources to help patients make the transition to treatment.” 

Each peer recovery coach must go through 30 hours of training. “The focus of the program is coaching to help create and sustain a great and meaningful life,” said Mandy Suthers, DarJune CEO and founder. “We emphasize a strength-based approach to help find and utilize the ‘recoverees’ values, assets and strengths to coach to success.”

Hieb emphasizes that the goal is to help those who are suffering to get the right level of service and be that conduit from the time the patient is in the emergency department to their first appointment for recovery treatment. “We really want to be sure that they are getting into treatment as quickly as possible and have the support to make that happen,” Hieb said. 

“The peer recovery coaches offer recovery advice and support and help individuals with substance abuse problems as they face a range of life problems – from unemployment to housing – that often hamper recovery,” Suthers added.  “Our program is one of seven pilot programs getting underway in Wisconsin. The results of the peer recovery coaching programs in other parts of the U.S. have been very encouraging.”

Hieb said the peer recovery coaches are certified and are scheduled so that there is 24/7 coverage in the emergency department “The implementation of recovery coaches into this environment aligns with our mission and vision at Bellin Health and will allow our patients to receive that additional support they need as they transition out of acute care and into the next step of treatment,” Hieb said. “For some individuals, it may be the support they need to make the transition and chose the path to recovery.”