By Amy Crowley

 

The opioid epidemic continues to plague our communities and looking for solutions is on the minds of many. For Mercy Health and AmeriCorps that thinking has turned into a program — called Mercy Serves AmeriCorps Program — that has helped more than 1,000 patients with education and treatment referrals.

 

The concept of Mercy Serves AmeriCorps is critical: groom the next generation of healthcare leaders to think differently about healthcare by exposing them to patients who need care at their most vulnerable and challenging time.

 

“This unique partnership between Mercy Health and AmeriCorps leverages the infrastructure and momentum of the national service movement to respond to a critical community health need,” said Gina Hemenway, Executive Director Community Health at Mercy Health.

 

This year-long program includes up to ten Mercy Serves Corps members who are college seniors or recent graduates looking to start their careers or enter grad school in a health-related field.  The program places these Corps members in a learning environment to work alongside Emergency Department staff to provide critical support to patients with opiate-use disorders. Corps members screen patients and provide brief interventions and referrals for treatment. They then follow patients after discharge, serving as a supportive resource throughout the treatment process.

 

Mercy Serves is the only AmeriCorps program in the country working within an acute-care setting. In many ways, AmeriCorps members who are able to take the time to get to know their patients is a sharp contrast to what the traditional ED care, pace and culture has been. Because their unique role allows them to spend more time with each patient, they have served as a therapeutic presence for patients who have lost their personal support networks.

 

Mercy Serves Members treat patients with a whole person, chronic disease model, including addressing emotional and social barriers to treatment and coordinating across settings to ensure all those who are ready for treatment get the care they need.

 

Mercy Serves promotes the power of the human story to help shift the existing paradigm and stigma attached to addiction.

 

The Health Collaborative is proud to honor the Mercy Serves AmeriCorps Program as a finalist for the 2019 Inspire Gen-H Award. Promoting the power of the human story to help shift the existing paradigm and stigma attached to addiction is exactly what our communities need.

 

Watch for more articles profiling the work of our award finalists throughout October, as we lead up to the 2019 Inspire Healthcare Dinner and Awards Celebration!