From 2016 until 2021, 17 New Hampshire hospitals engaged in 32 projects to improve the care of persons with opioid use disorder (OUD) in outpatient primary care practices, emergency departments, and acute care inpatient units.
These projects were very effective in providing a treatment and recovery pathway for persons with OUD. Over 1,000 unique patients were treated in primary care practices. Approximately 4,500 patients received care in emergency departments. Over 75% of those patients received referrals to post discharge care and follow up. The project was expanded to include inpatient work in 2020 and, in a single year, 928 patients received services and 78% of those received referrals for additional services after discharge.
In 2021, the project was completely revised to build on past successes and to combat the increasing use of stimulants and the high rate of risky alcohol use in the state. There are 11 hospitals engaged in project work that encompasses multiple patient facing services, including networked outpatient care practices, emergency departments, and inpatient care units.
New Hampshire has had some remarkable successes in combatting the opioid epidemic. In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control ranked it second in the nation in drug overdose deaths. The number of drug overdose deaths peaked at 490 persons in 2017. That number dropped over 15% in 2 years. New Hampshire is the only state in the nation in seeing the number of deaths from opioid overdoses decrease in that period. (New Hampshire Bulletin, March 21, 2022)
Unfortunately, that trend did not continue. Overdose deaths rose very slightly in 2020, but have continued to escalate in each subsequent year, increasing almost 12% from 2019 to 2022. (Office of the Chief Medical Examiner)
The Foundation for Healthy Communities serves as the statewide leader and unified voice for New Hampshire’s hospitals and health systems. Founded in 1934, NHHA represents its members through advocacy, education and information in support of their mission to improve the health and well-being of the patients and communities they serve.