St. Claire HealthCare & Edgewater Recovery Announce First of Its Kind Partnership to Support Patients in Addiction Recovery
Leaders from St. Claire HealthCare (SCH), Edgewater Recovery and the Morehead community gathered at the Center for Health, Education and Research in the heart of the city to announce a partnership to help those struggling with addiction in the area.
St. Claire HealthCare and Edgewater Recovery are teaming up to launch their Peer Support Program. St. Claire patients who are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction will be paired up with a Peer Support Specialist at Edgewater who will help them achieve sustained recovery through shared, lived or common experiences with substance use, addiction or mental health conditions.
Substance abuse has ravaged the country, but Appalachia and Eastern Kentucky especially. Speaking at the press conference, Morehead Mayor Laura White-Brown noted the city saw 105 overdoses last year, and for 2023, they have been averaging 10 per month, highlighting the critical need for better care.
The Peer Support program is designed to reduce the impact substance use is having on individuals, families and the community by ensuring people in active addiction have access to organized, quality, comprehensive medical care, whether they find themselves in the ER or at a routine checkup. They can get information about addiction recovery and be matched up with a Peer Support Specialist immediately. They can even get into addiction treatment that same day if they’re ready. For those in recovery, St. Claire hopes to foster easily accessible, welcoming healthcare where all medical needs can be treated without judgment by staff who are trained in substance use disorder.
“We’ve been working diligently for some two months now developing a fully integrated program to maximize care and post-recovery services to benefit a population that oftentimes our society does not value or respect,” said SCH President/CEO, Donald H. Lloyd, II.
It was that stigma surrounding addiction that made Edgewater’s General Counsel Ashley Adkins surprised when Lloyd reached out to her about the partnership. “As I sat down with him, he explained that it was St. Claire's mission to provide hope and opportunity to those suffering from addiction in Eastern Kentucky. Beyond that, he told me that he wanted to learn from Edgewater – that he wanted his staff to understand the disease of addiction and to end the stigma,” said Adkins.
“[We’re] recognizing that addiction is an illness, it’s a sickness. It has impacted in some shape, form or fashion all of our families, close friends, people that we know, people that we care for, people that we respect,” noted Special Advisor to the Governor Rocky Adkins in his remarks. “This is a day of celebration. While we do recognize that we have a severe problem… the ability in Kentucky now to receive recovery treatment is as great here… as it is in any state throughout the United States of America.”
The Peer Support Program and its wraparound services are only the first phase of the partnership. SCH and Edgewater will also be teaming up on second-chance employment opportunities within the health system for people in recovery, which will include access to higher education and job training provided by St. Claire.
“By taking this proactive step, St. Claire is not only creating employment opportunities but also fostering an environment of understanding, empathy, and shared experience,” said Rowan County Judge Executive Harry Clark. “Furthermore, St. Claire is investing in the education and professional development of these individuals, with Edgewater's support, ensuring their long-term success and retention.” Diana Knoll, Edgewater’s Clinical Director and someone in long-term recovery herself, said she was grateful for this partnership to fill a desperately needed gap of care in the community. “Prior to our work with St. Claire, we didn’t have the ability to refer clients for the appropriate level of care because the level of care simply did not exist. Resources for medical detox have dwindled over the last few years and treatment for severe mental health was limited,” said Knoll. “Countless times I found myself saying that there was a hole in the system that was failing an entire population, leaving them with their only options being homelessness or incarceration.”
Breaking the cycle of addiction can sometimes come down to the people and support system around you, and that’s why the first phase of this program focuses on support from peers who are intimately familiar with addiction and mental health challenges. Alyshia Brummet, who is also in active recovery and now works as an Edgewater Peer Support Specialist, talked about how crucial that support was when she entered treatment at Edgewater in September 2021.
“The staff welcomed me with open arms despite my flaws. They told me ‘Let me love you until you can love yourself’. This was so foreign to me because my understanding of love was that it came with conditions. Theirs didn’t, they just wanted me to get clean and stay clean and become the person I wanted to be,” said Brummet while speaking to the packed conference room.
The press conference was capped off with an award ceremony, recognizing leaders at both organizations who were instrumental in helping people in addiction recovery. The Sisters of Notre Dame, the organization that sponsors St. Claire HealthCare, presented Shellie Wilburn-Smith, SCH’s Clinical Program Director of Behavioral Health, with the Gospel Witness Award for exemplifying compassion, hope and joy, especially to those who experience poverty in its various forms. The Sisters also presented the Transformative Leadership Award to David Gross, SCH Administrative Director of Education & Research and Director of Northeast Kentucky Area Health Education Center, for inspiring hope and excellence while leading others to a fuller, freer life. John David Elam, owner and founder of Edgewater Recovery, was presented with the Champion of Recovery Award by Lloyd in recognition of the hundreds of lives he helped change and the barriers to recovery he helped remove.
St. Claire HealthCare is an integrated health system with a growing medical staff of more than 125 physicians and nearly 70 advanced practice professionals representing more than 30 medical specialties. It includes the largest rural hospital in Eastern Kentucky, seven primary care locations located within five counties, a multi-specialty medical pavilion, two urgent care centers, a pediatrics clinic, as well as, a retail pharmacy, counseling center, medical equipment and supply store, and an outpatient center. Additionally, SCH provides home health and hospice services in eight counties within its 11-county service region.
Edgewater Recovery is a state-licensed Behavioral Health Organization offering alcohol and drug abuse treatment through multiple levels of care at their men’s facilities located in Morehead, Pikeville and Paducah and their women’s facilities in Morehead and Flemingsburg. All facilities are CARF accredited, ensuring clients receive the highest level of professional care. Edgewater uses time-tested and evidence-based methods that deliver positive results, while also highlighting the value of unified recovery, fellowship and a lifelong commitment to change. Their goal is to provide an atmosphere of healing and to share hope to those who have long felt hopeless.