YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Mahoning Valley’s growing substance abuse problem has one local hospital system concerned.
Mercy Health, which operates St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown and Boardman as well as St. Joseph Warren Hospital, plans to teach each of its students how to recognize patients at risk, as well as how to recommend treatment.
The dental clinic at St. Elizabeth Health Center sees hundreds of patients each week. It is where Mercy Health first started its effort to help those who may be at risk of drug or alcohol addiction.
Patients are asked to fill out a 20-question form, which includes questions like: have you used drugs other than those required medical reasons?
“Not every patient will be receptive at that moment to getting into treatment, but many will,” said Crystal Jones, grant director of Mercy Health’s Foundation.
The Foundation recently received an $864,000 federal grant to help teach all students as part of their clinical training. The program is funded for three years and goes into effect Wednesday, September 30.
“We’re going to have 1,700 more people — medical professionals in our community that are doing this and addressing the substance abuse problem,” Jones said.
Medical and dental residents, nursing students and others pursuing health careers will learn how to recognize at-risk patients and how to get them help. Mercy Health is already working on the third phase of the project, which is to make sure treatment providers are ready for their referrals.
“So that when we get to the refer to treatment stage, and we have patients who are receptive and ready to go to that step, that we have the resources available,” Jones said.