Department of Drug and Alcohol Control Programs visits Reading Hospital and emphasizes importance of heat transfer programs for overdose survivors


Reading, PA – Today, Department of Drug and Alcohol Control Programs (DDAP) Secretary Jen Smith visited Reading – Tower Health Hospital to highlight the success of their hot transfer program and to discuss the importance of providing a direct referral from the emergency room to a substance use disorder (SUD) following an overdose.

“At a time when we are witnessing a staggering increase in the number of overdose deaths, hot transfer programs play a critical role in strengthening the drug and alcohol system in Pennsylvania,” Secretary said. from DDAP, Jen Smith. “Supportive transfer programs, like the one that was successful here at Reading Hospital, show how compassion and the right resources can save lives. “

In the period immediately after an overdose survivor leaves the emergency room, there is often a high risk of repeated overdose. The goal of the hot transfer program is to reduce this risk by providing a referral that directly transfers overdose survivors from the hospital emergency department to treatment and SUD resources.

As of January 2017, hot transfer programs have been implemented at 160 hospitals in Pennsylvania, representing more than 95% of total Commonwealth hospitals. Thanks to these programs, more than 16,000 people have been directly referred for treatment. A total of 6,931 hot transfer encounters took place at these hospitals from January 2021 to April 2021 alone.

In four and a half years, Reading Hospital’s hot transfer program has seen nearly 5,000 patients, more than 60 percent of whom have agreed and started treatment immediately.

“When we started planning and implementing the Warm Handoff program, we knew we would need a strong partner for the program to be successful. We found this out with the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) team, ”said Charles F. Barbera, MD, vice president of Tower Health. “With the support and collaboration of COCA, we are able to provide certified recovery personnel to the Emergency Department at Reading Hospital 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Access to this essential life-saving care can mean the difference between life and death for members of our community. We have been fortunate to see how life improves when our patients are offered rehabilitation services immediately after an overdose.

Since January 2016, the Ministry has been working with stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition for opioid overdose survivors accessing treatment. Contractual changes were added to grant agreements between DDAP and local single county authorities (SCA) to establish overdose survivors as a priority population, requiring each SCA to implement hot transfer programs with hospitals in his county and reports monthly hot transfer data.

The DDAP and the Ministry of Health organized regional Warm Handoff summits in spring 2018 and 2019. The aim of each summit was to bring together stakeholders from the public and private sectors in a range of disciplines to learn from experts and each other. others. In 2019, 923 participants attended the summit, an increase of 47% from 2018, hearing from 33 presenters / co-presenters on 26 topics related to the warm transfer.

Visit the Life Unites Us Stigma dashboard for regional hot-push data.

CONTACT WITH THE MEDIA: Ali Gantz – [email protected]

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