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C25. Collaborating with Community Partners in Educating Emergency Department Health Care Providers on Caring for Persons with Substance Use Disorder

About The Event

  • Cost: Free
  • Total Slot: 0
  • Booked Slot: 0

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Learner category:

  • Intermediate Level

Learning objectives:

  • Participants will be able to describe the role of emergency department health care providers
    as the first point of contact for engagement in harm reduction practice, utilization of health care
    services, and self-care management for people with substance use disorder
  • Participants will be able to state three ways in which emergency department health care providers can
    incorporate harm reduction practices into their care.


Problem: Emergency department health care providers (EDHCPs) are confronted with increasing numbers of people with substance use disorder (SUD) accessing services and often lack the training and resources to assist this vulnerable population.
Evidence Appraisal and Synthesis: People who use drugs are underserved and experience stigma and discrimination by EDHCPs. SUD is a chronic, relapsing brain disease, and EDHCPs are often unprepared to provide harm reduction education and referral for services for persons with a SUD.
Implementation Strategies: Five 90-minute educational presentations were held with EDHCPs at four hospitals in Massachusetts. Representatives from community agencies presented information on what they do and how they could help the EDHCPs to support the patient and family of those with SUD. The focus of the presentation was on recognizing addiction and supporting patients and their families through recovery. EDHCPs were provided with information about trauma-informed care principles, the physiology of addiction, the impact of stigma, recovery-focused language, their role in harm reduction education, and area recovery supports for each hospital.
Evaluation: The EDHCP written evaluations were positive. The staff appreciated hearing of real patient experiences, the change in their mindset towards addiction, practical harm reduction education that they could incorporate into their practice, and awareness of area resources that could be shared with patients and families.
Lessons Learned: Health care providers need ongoing SUD training, an easy and accessible community resource referral sheet, and institutional support to provide culturally sensitive care to people with SUD.


Kimberly Dion PhD, RN, CNE, CARN is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Nursing. Her research focuses on persons with a substance use disorder, a population she has worked with for 20 years. She is a harm reductionist and certified naloxone train the trainer for Massachusetts. She performs educational sessions on reducing stigma toward those with substance use disorder, harm reduction practice, and recognition of an opioid overdose.
Cherry Sullivan, MPH is the Program Coordinator forHampshire HOPE through the Center for Prevention and Community Engagement for the City of Northampton Health Department
Michele Farry, BS is the Regional DART Coordinator for Hampshire HOPE through the Center for Prevention and Community Engagement for the City of Northampton Health Department

Our Speakers

Cherry Sullivan
Kimberly Dion
Michele Farry
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