Mobile Opioid Response Team rolls out

There’s one goal for the new Mobile Opioid Response Team: get people into treatment.

Though the number of Hoosiers who died from an opioid overdose fell in 2018, communities are still grappling with high rates of opioid use and continued risk for overdose. Engaging those people in treatment is a top priority for the state, which awarded $820,000 to Beacon Health System to partner with Oaklawn and others in creating a mobile response team serving St. Joseph, Elkhart and Marshall counties.

“We want to stop people from dying. Sometimes that’s information brokering, sometimes that’s getting people connected to the right service, whether or not that’s Oaklawn,” said Luke Lefever, coordinator of the Mobile Response Unit.

The unit will receive calls from local emergency rooms, providers, opioid users and even friends and family members. After a brief phone screening to ensure the unit can provide the help requested, a recovery coach is dispatched to assess the situation and plan next steps.

The unit responded to its first call last week from a man in South Bend who needed a prescription. The client had medication, but it was taken away when he entered jail and never returned at his release.

“We dispatched a recovery coach to see him,” Lefever said. “It turned out, he was a recent client at Oaklawn, and had an assessment in the system. Later that week, he saw Dr. Brucker for a refill for his prescription, and, in this instance, we successfully avoided a relapse.”

In addition to responding to calls, the unit will raise awareness in communities where the mobile unit or paramedics are frequently called. The St. Joseph County Health Department has a vehicle on loan to the unit for such occasions, as well as some services.

“We’re going to do some outreach, HIV screenings, Hep C screenings, wound care kits. It’s a step toward harm reduction,” Lefever said. “We want people to know that we’re approachable and they can trust us, so that when they’re ready to ask for help, they know where to come.”

To contact the mobile response team, which is available 24 hours a day for emergency calls, call 574-537-2700.

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