Hamilton County Justice Center Leads the Way in Caring for Opioid-Addicted Inmates

As the opioid epidemic continues its grip on Ohio, each day hundreds of people are booked into Ohio jails addicted to these dangerous drugs. Deprived of access to illegal drugs, people who have been abusing opioids will soon begin the dangerous process of drug withdrawal in the jail. Thankfully, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s office is doing more to help inmate patients through opioid withdrawal and then to connect them to care to overcome opioid addiction.

Hamilton County and its correctional healthcare partner, NaphCare, have just initiated a better approach to managing opioid withdrawal in the Hamilton County Justice Center. Brad McLane, the Chief Operating Officer for NaphCare, explains as follows: “The standard approach to managing opioid withdrawal in the jails is to monitor the patient as they go through withdrawal and administer medications to blunt symptoms. These patients can become very sick and can even be at risk of dying. NaphCare has developed a safer approach to managing opioid withdrawal, and we are very pleased that Sheriff Neil and our partners in Hamilton County have agreed to pilot our new approach in Ohio at the Hamilton County Justice Center.”

NaphCare, which provides comprehensive healthcare to almost 30,000 patients every day in twenty-seven jails across the Country and three jails in Ohio, has now implemented its new approach to managing opioid withdrawal in ten of its jails in seven states. Said McLane: “We have seen dramatic benefits for our patients. We have gone from patients who were too sick from opioid withdrawal to get out of bed, to patients who are healthy and able to work with our healthcare professionals to tend to their other healthcare and mental health needs.”

This better approach to caring for patients going through opioid withdrawal provides for administration of a taper of a drug called buprenorphine to patients who have sufficiently severe withdrawal symptoms. NaphCare’s health care providers and nurses monitor the severity of each patient’s withdrawal symptoms, and administer small doses of buprenorphine over a short period of time once the patient starts to exhibit withdrawal symptoms. The result is that patients not only withdraw safely but without suffering through the severe sickness that often otherwise accompanies the process of the body’s detoxification from opioids.

McLane explains that, because of strict regulations of buprenorphine and other controlled drugs in Ohio, NaphCare had to work with the Ohio Pharmacy and Medical Boards over a several month period to ensure that NaphCare’s use of buprenorphine complies with applicable rules. McLane commended the Medical and Pharmacy Boards for working with NaphCare to provide regulatory guidance and further explained: “We at NaphCare strive to not only provide great care to our patients but to advocate for them before regulators and decision-makers. We are excited that, with Sheriff Neil’s support, we have been able to blaze a new trail to better care for our patients who come into the jail addicted to Opioids. We are looking forward to implementing our new approach in our other Ohio jails – Montgomery and Franklin Counties – in the near future, and we hope that other correctional healthcare providers will follow our lead.”

Dr. Emily Feely, Chief Medical Officer for NaphCare, explains that NaphCare’s approach to treating opioid withdrawal stems from the medical community’s evolving thinking about its dangers: “Not long ago, medical schools taught that opioid withdrawal was not life threatening. Today we know better. Opioid withdrawal can result in dehydration and electrolyte imbalances that can become life threatening. We believe that the best approach is to prevent the symptoms that cause dehydration by administering a buprenorphine taper, rather than allowing symptoms to manifest and managing them afterward.”

Maria Perdikakis, who oversees NaphCare’s medical staff at the Hamilton County Justice Center, applauded Sherriff Jim Neil and Hamilton County corrections for being the first of NaphCare’s correctional partners in Ohio to support a better approach to treating opioid withdrawal: “Sheriff Neil showed a lot of vision in allowing us to implement a new and better approach to managing opioid withdrawal, which we believe will set a higher standard for caring for opioid-addicted patients in all jails in Ohio.”

Hamilton County is not only leading the way in caring for patients during opioid withdrawal, but also connecting patients to care to help them overcome their problems with addiction. Working with Talbert House Hamilton County offers addiction treatment to hundreds of inmates each year during their incarceration. In addition, Hamilton County and NaphCare are starting a partnership with BrightView to help connect even more inmates to the care they need to overcome opioid addiction when they are discharged from the jail.

About NaphCare
NaphCare exists to improve the lives of our patients by administering competent, caring healthcare solutions in an environment of respect and professionalism. We want to lead the correctional healthcare industry forward through the continuous development of our proactive, preventative approach to care delivery. To discover more of how NaphCare provides cost-efficient solutions, visit naphcare.com.

Release Date: 05/23/2018