FRESNO, California (KSEE) — A program has been a game changer for treating opioid addiction in the Central Valley. Emergency medical personnel at Community Regional Medical Center say it’s not just educating addicts about this, but also the medical community at-large.
When she ran out of pills, one Fresno woman found herself at the emergency room at CRMC. The patient, who asked not to be identified, had been struggling with an addiction to Norco for years.
“I started taking pills after I had my son,” the patient said.
At that point, the Bridge Program had been running for several months. Once she told them her issue, the patient was given a different pill.
“When they gave me that one pill, it was the best thing. I felt relief,” she said.
She was given buprenorphine, it’s a non-addictive medicine that eases withdrawal. Dr. Rais Vohra, an emergency medicine physician at CRMC, said after the pill is given to patients, they get referred to a trusted program that will monitor their treatment daily.
“Even if we don’t start the medication, though, it’s important we just talk to them to let them know we’re here for them,” Vohra said.
Vohra adds the emergency medicine staff at CRMC are learning more about addiction because of the program.
“That’s another core mission…to educate our fellow physicians to say look — this is a chronic brain illness. It’s relatively easy to treat with the medications that are now available,” he said.
At least one person a day comes to CRMC’s ER to connect with the program, according to Vohra.
“It saved me because I’d probably be dead somewhere by an overdose (by now),” the patient said.
CRMC is one of four hospitals in our area with this program. Here are the other three:
- Adventist Health Hanford
- Kaweah Delta Medical Center
- Mercy Medical Center
In all, 52 hospitals in California have this program.