Alcohol & substance use screening program started
Capital Health is working to answer a major health need in Trenton by starting an Alcohol and Substance Use Program at its Regional Medical Center, which is also Mercer County’s designated Emergency Mental Health Services Center.
“The goal of our program is to help connect those who know they need substance use treatment with local treatment centers,” said Beth Mil, director of Clinical Integration at Capital Health. “Every patient is screened by a nurse for alcohol or drug use. Patients who are identified as at-risk are assessed by licensed and certified clinical alcohol and drug counselors. The counselors ask questions, provide brief intervention and refer to local treatment centers if necessary. We also conduct screenings in our Emergency Department through a partnership with Henry J. Austin Health Center.”
Last year, the Trenton Health Team (which includes Capital Health and Henry J. Austin Health Center) published a comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) in which they identified the city’s top health priorities with help from Trenton residents. One of the five priority areas defined was substance abuse and behavioral health.
Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based practice recommended by the Institute of Medicine to identify, reduce, and prevent problematic use, abuse, and dependence on alcohol and illicit drugs. Capital Health’s Alcohol and Substance Use Program is based on this community-based screening model.
“Our team intervenes for those who need help before other serious health issues occur. We also support patients and loved ones to help them self-manage their disorders, rebuild their confidence, and go on to live independent, fulfilling lives,” said Mil. “We would like to thank Dr. Robert Remstein [vice president of Accountable Care at Capital Health] and Dr. Gary Brown [chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Capital Health] for their leadership and guidance in developing this important program for our patients.”
In addition to the Alcohol and Substance Use Program, Capital Health also has an After-School Wellness Program, a collaboration between Capital Health, Trenton School District and Christina Seix Academy. The program, which addresses another priority area defined by the Trenton Health Team’s CHNA, provides students in Trenton schools (ages 4 – 12 years old) and their parents or guardians with workshops on choosing healthier foods and introducing and providing opportunities for organized physical activity. Capital Health offers both programs at no cost to participants.