SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 1, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An alarming spike in heroin addiction in eastern Ventura County that led to an innovative partnership between Simi Valley Hospital-Adventist Health and area high schools is the subject of a new video produced by the California Hospital Association (CHA).
The community benefit program is centered around an acute detox program, which also performs random drug testing on students whose parents give their consent. In first seven months of the program, more than 50 patients had been admitted to the detox program.
The video can be found here: www.calhospital.org/general-information/simi-valley-detox-program.
Julia Feig, R.N., head of the Emergency Department at Simi Valley Hospital, said she began noticing a substantial increase in heroin-related cases about five years ago. Feig said it often begins with abuse of prescription pain medicine.
"As the addiction grows, they need to have more and more of the medication to get the high that they're looking for," Feig said. Addicts, she said, then move on to heroin, which is easily available on the street.
Simi Valley Police Chief Mitch McCann praised the program's effectiveness.
"We finally have some place in our own community where we can try to help our residents that are having difficulties," McCann said.
In addition to the acute detox program, Simi Valley Hospital CEO Kim Milstien noted that it was natural for the hospital to work together with local high schools on random drug testing of students.
"It became apparent to us that we could partner with them in their goal to try to react not just to the fact that heroin exists in the community, but to actively work on prevention," Milstien said.
The detox and drug screening program is a prime example of community benefit programs offered by California's non-profit hospitals, developed in collaboration with the communities they serve.
Jim Haase of Camarillo knows firsthand the value of the program at Simi Valley Hospital. His 23-year-old daughter is a heroin addict, and he credits health care professionals at the hospital with saving her life.
"At some point you just get to where you feel helpless," Haase said. "It's definitely needed, I think there are a lot of people that are in my position."
SOURCE California Hospital Association