SBIRT Program off to Successful Start in Baltimore MedStar Hospitals | MedStar Health

SBIRT Program Off to Successful Start in Baltimore MedStar Hospitals

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Baltimore, MD—(November 10, 2016)—   MedStar Health was awarded the largest grant in its history by Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore, to fund tools, training, and resources for emergency room staff to screen for risky substance abuse behaviors, and motivate patients to enlist treatment.

Known as SBIRT, (Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment), the nationally recognized, evidenced-based program was implemented in each of MedStar’s four Baltimore hospitals: MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, MedStar Good Samaritan, MedStar Union Memorial and MedStar Harbor Hospitals, in partnership with Mosaic Group, a Maryland healthcare consulting firm and an expert in SBIRT for the state.

“Substance abuse is a significant public health issue nationally and in Baltimore,” said Dawnavan S. Davis, PhD, Assistant Vice President of Community Health for MedStar. “Over 300 people died in 2014 from drug and alcohol abuse in Baltimore City. It’s an epidemic that impacts everyone so we are excited by the early progress we are seeing in the SBIRT program. We know that many who come through our emergency rooms who are challenged by addiction, want desperately to change their lives. They just don’t know where to get the help.”

The program’s three-part process starts with a universal screening. All patients are assessed for risky substance abuse behavior using standardized tools. If the screening indicates a moderate or high risk, a brief intervention by a peer recovery coach ensues, utilizing motivational interviewing techniques focused on promoting an individual’s own desire to change. Finally, a peer recovery coach provides additional evaluation and referral services for patients deemed high risk.

 At least three peer recovery coaches are employed in each emergency room with a goal of increasing the number of patients referred to and admitted into programs for substance abuse treatment.

Since Oct. 1, more than 27,000 MedStar patients have been screened, with over 5,200 testing positive for SBIRT intervention.

“Efforts like this are critical to our behavioral health efforts to improve patient care,” said Dr. Elias Shaya, Regional Medical Director for Behavior Health MedStar North.

About MedStar Health

MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit