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This Florida Company is Transforming the Field of Addiction Treatment

addiction treatment

This Florida Company is Transforming the Field of Addiction Treatment

What happens when you take common sense out of its box? Well, you wind-up with uncommon ideas. More often than not, those ideas are ground-breaking. They’re also almost always very much welcome. Especially when it comes to addiction treatment. Because new ideas can mean the difference between life and death.

This hypothesis is surely what drives the good folks at SMA Healthcare. The Florida nonprofit continues to lead the way in addiction treatment by devising — and implementing — ever advanced methods. Some of those methods are based on pure common sense. Others are founded in science and study. Many are grounded in both. Whatever their origin, each and every one of those methods is very much welcome.

Let’s have a look:

Teaming with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office

SMA’s new partnership with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office is a prime example of both — a proven method that makes perfect common sense. In fact, it’s just the kind of method that should be implemented everywhere.

The program, which is backed by a Florida Power and Light grant, puts a dozen iPads into the hands of Sheriff’s Office supervisors. The iPads, as you might suspect, are directly connected to staff at SMA. Now when law enforcement responds to mental health crisis calls. they’ve got behavioral health specialists right there beside them. Should a call get complicated, deputies can immediately connect the person in crisis with a healthcare professional.

“We’re dealing more and more with people who are in a mental crisis,” said Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood. “If we think they need to speak to a licensed professional for time constraints, you just do a zoom call and hand the iPad over to either the person in crisis or a family member. Then we can get a plan together where we don’t have to go in and use force.”

Chitwood also told Click Orlando that deputies ‘having mental health background information right at their fingertips will help de-escalate a situation.’

The “person in crisis may not like uniforms, [or they] may not like a marked police car or sirens,” he said. “Well, these are things to know because that will structure our response.”.

SMA Healthcare COO Dr. Rhonda Harvey said the new SMA/County Sheriffs program enables her staff to intervene before a crisis can escalate and a person ends-up arrested. She also believes jail is the wrong place for a person-in-crisis to be.

“Our goal is to really be able to take that warm handoff from law enforcement,” said Dr. Harvey. To “let them get on their way with safety patrols and doing everything that they do to keep us safe.” Adding that having behavioral health take over such cases will likely produce “a more favorable outcome.”

Dr. Harvey is right. Quite right. Letting people do what they do best will indeed produce the best results. In this case, it’s allowing law enforcement to enforce the law and mental health providers to provide mental health.

Like we said common sense, taken right out of its box.

Keeping Women WARM

In addition to being there to mitigate interactions between people-in-crisis and police, SMA is also there for Moms and Moms-to-be. And their so being has recently been rightfully recognized — again. In fact, it’s been recognized by one of the nation’s most trusted companies. Let’s first though look at the program.

Everyone would agree that being separated from a child is probably the most painful experience a mother can imagine. Unfortunately, for mothers with substance abuse issues, it’s often a reality. SMA Healthcare’s long-running WARM Program aims to change all that — one Mom at a time.

The program’s acronym stands for Women Assisting Recovering Mothers. It’s housed on the site of the Vince Carter Sanctuary, which was founded in 2007 by the same-named former NBA player and his mother Michelle Carter-Scott. In 2013 SMA came in and retrofitted the facility in order to concentrate on treating pregnant and parenting mothers. In addition to extensive renovations, SMA also added a new child development center.

The result? WARM is working veritable wonders for both Moms and Moms-to-be. Indeed, not only does the long-term residential program enable mothers to receive addiction treatment without losing custody of their kids, but it also helps pregnant women recover from addiction and give birth to drug-free children. In addition, the program employs a full complement of therapy sessions, parenting workshops and vocational classes.

Like the above, it’s a common sense combination that benefits everyone. Keeping the kids close while educating the moms has significantly increased the program’s success rate. It’s also increased the likelihood of long-term addiction recovery. In fact, WARM has become so successful that State Farm® just awarded a grant to its culinary arts program.

That’s right. The good neighbors at State Farm® just gave WARM $1500 to purchase even more textbooks for its culinary arts program. Then again, why wouldn’t they? WARM’s increasingly successful culinary arts program enables students to earn a wide range of certificates, including Professional Food Safety Manager Certification (Sanitation), Nutrition for Food Service Personnel, Dining Room Management, and Hospitality and Restaurant Management. Better still, the impressive scroll atop said certificates springs from none other than the University of Florida’s own Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences Program.

“In FY 2019-2020, 94 women at WARM successfully participated in the culinary program and received their certifications,” said Jennifer Secor, Executive Director. “And we are especially proud of the training they receive through outside catering opportunities, as well as providing daily meals for the 70 women and 25 children who reside at WARM.”


Peer Recovery Support

For some reason, some organizations have been slow to recognize the value of peer recovery support. Not so SMA, which has not only recognized the value, but it’s even further expanding the peer recovery support program. In fact, the non-profit just received a grant from the Southeast Volusia Hospital District that will completely cover the costs of an intervention bridge peer program at AdventHealth New Smyrna Beach.

What does that mean exactly? Well, it means the hospital will have a SMA peer recovery specialist directly advocating for patients suffering from Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Considering the specialist will be providing bedside mentoring and addiction treatment program assistance, as well as district-wide distribution of the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, the appointment is a win-win all around.

“For too long, people dealing with addiction have been caught in a cycle of ‘catch, treat and release,'” says AdventHealth New Smyrna Beach CEO Dr. Dennis Hernandez. “Meaning once they’re out of the ER, they are basically on their own. This program will ensure those affected have access to the best treatment and pathway to recovery.”

SMA Healthcare already has a similar program at Halifax Health Medical Center, reports the Daytona Beach News-Journal. And SMA says many of that hospital’s overdose patients opted to receive addiction treatment upon their release. With drug use continuing to rise around New Smyrna Beach and “overdose cases increasing as high as 51 percent year over year,” this addition is especially welcome — and necessary.

Behavioral Health Pandemic Hero

Common sense out-of-the-box methods are of course only as good as the people who implement them. And while SMA fields a team of highly-trained and duly-respected professionals, we’d like to single out RN Colleen Colandrea. Why? Because she’s been officially recognized as a hero.

That’s right. In October the Florida Behavioral Health Association (FBHA) named Ms. Colandrea a Behavioral Health Pandemic Hero, just one of six so-named across the entire Sunshine State.

SMA Healthcare is undoubtedly proud of the recognition. More proud perhaps — and grateful — are the patients in the DeLand Men’s Residential Treatment Program. See, Ms. Colandrea not only runs the program’s nursing department, but she’s also the facility’s only medical staff member. And as such she’s single-handedly maintained its health and wellness throughout an incredibly uneasy period.

“In the midst of COVID-19,” reads SMA’s release, “Colleen Colandrea embraced the challenge of overseeing SMA’s Deland Men’s Residential Treatment (DMRT) facility. [And] Colandrea continues to prioritize the needs of others above her own.”

The Pandemic Heroes recognition is a special 2020 category created by the Florida Behavioral Health Association to honor those individuals who have worked tirelessly to make sure mental health and substance use treatment and prevention services were available to those in need during the pandemic.

“Colleen is a such an incredible asset to our SMA Healthcare team,” said SMA CEO Ivan Cosimi. “Her dedication and commitment to our clients, especially during this pandemic, is vital to our organization. We appreciate her and all of the SMA staff who have stepped up during these difficult times.”

“Each and every day, these selfless individuals put the needs of their patients first,” adds Melanie Brown-Woofter, president and CEO of FBHA. “This year has been extremely tough for everyone. It’s evident in the significant increase in numbers of Floridians reporting more anxiety, depression and uncertainty across the state. We are so thankful for these behavioral health heroes and their continued dedication to helping others.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Advanced Addiction Treatment

Healing Properties applauds SMA Healthcare’s continuing advance of addiction treatment methods and protocols. We’re especially encouraged to see such a large organization prove the efficacy of thinking out of the box. Then again, such thinking undoubtedly contributes to SMA’s increasing success. Nevertheless, the more such organizations take a common sense approach to advanced methods, the more addiction treatment advances we’ll make, and the more success stories there’ll be. SMA Healthcare is setting an exemplary example for everyone.

Are you suffering from substance abuse? Is a friend or a loved one battling addiction? Do you need addiction treatment help? It’s out there. All you’ve got to do is pick up the phone. So please. Do so. You deserve it. So do your friends. And so does your family.

(Image Creative Commons Courtesy Blue Diamond Gallery — with great gratitude.)

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