St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport recently became the 21st hospital in Connecticut to incorporate the Emergency Department Recovery Coach (EDRC) program from the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR).

The program launch at St. Vincent’s  Emergency Department is the result of collaborative efforts between CCAR, the Cigna Foundation, and Hartford HealthCare.

Recovery coaches are skilled professionals, often with firsthand experience of recovery, who support people affected by substance use through one-on-one connection, resource brokering and follow-up conversations.

CCAR’s Emergency Department Recovery Coach program was launched in 2017 with a small team responding to a handful of hospitals. Since then, the program has grown to employ a team of 18 coaches responding to 21 hospitals across Connecticut. Since the inception of CCAR’s EDRC program, its coaches have worked with more than 5,500 people. Ninety-three percent of those interactions resulted in connection to support.

CCAR has had a strong presence in Bridgeport since opening a Recovery Community Center in the heart of downtown in 2006. Of CCAR’s five centers in Connecticut, Bridgeport is one of the busiest. Last year alone, the Bridgeport Recovery Community Center had about 16,000 people come through its doors. It was clear to CCAR leadership that as the EDRC program grew and the opioid crisis continued, having recovery coaches in Bridgeport Emergency Departments would be of great benefit to that community.

The launch of CCAR’s EDRC program at St. Vincent’s was funded through a grant from the Cigna Foundation.

“The misuse of opioids and other substances continues to take a heavy toll in Connecticut and presents an ongoing threat to the health and well-being of our communities,” said Wendy Sherry, president of Cigna’s Connecticut market. “We are pleased that funding from the Cigna Foundation has enabled CCAR to bring its innovative program to St. Vincent’s, where we hope it will help reduce overdoses and potentially save lives.”

The recent acquisition of St. Vincent’s by Hartford HealthCare was timely. With CCAR coaches already working in every other Hartford HealthCare-run Emergency Department, officials at Hartford HealthCare were eager to make this service available at their newest ED.

“Having EDRC’s throughout the Hartford HealthCare system has been incredibly valuable” said Patricia Rehmer, president of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network. “We’re very pleased to now be able to offer this at our ED at St. Vincent’s so that we can reach people in all parts of the state who need this critical service.”

CCAR’s EDRC Program Manager, Jennifer Chadukiewicz, said she is pleased with the results of the collaboration.

“It became clear that utilizing the Cigna Foundation grant to bring our EDRC Program into St. Vincent’s, already known for their mission to serve ‘those who are poor, vulnerable, and under-served’, was the right choice ” she said. “This collaboration was truly inspired by a spirit of community coming together for a higher good.”

For more information on Emergency Care at St. Vincent’s Medical Center, click here.