10:18 AM

Hartman: Bipartisan Support of Catawba Hospital Proposal Encouraging and Needed

Cheri Hartman headshot

Cheri W. Hartman, PhD, is program manager of Carilion Clinic’s office-based opioid treatment program, principal investigator on the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services Bridge to Treatment Replication Project, and a Steering Committee member of the Roanoke Valley Collective Response

There is a bright spot to celebrate in this time of discouraging setbacks.

Kudos to Del. Sam Rasoul and the other patrons of House Bill 105 under consideration.

This is a bipartisan effort to bring significant resources to our region to strengthen the continuum of care for persons struggling with mental health conditions and/or substance use disorders.

I find it heartening to learn about our elected officials joining forces “across the aisle” to address critical needs amongst our regions’ residents.

Full disclosure: I work in a psychiatric outpatient setting, in particular with individuals working to achieve recovery in the face of their opioid use disorder.

I also serve on the volunteer-driven Roanoke Valley Collective Response. The need to strengthen our continuum of care is evident: too many individuals lack housing – transitional and permanent residences that can foster recovery, wellness and the pursuit of employment and family stability.

Transitions in care are especially challenging as patients need to be able to move from one level to another (acute stabilization to inpatient intensive care to step down levels of services that can integrate medical, psychiatric and addiction treatment services).

A workforce is needed who can provide evidence-based quality care wrapped around with social services and bolstered by peer navigators.

Creating an ecosystem that fosters recovery is comparable to growing life in a habitat that allows for breathing and healthy choices and chances.

The vision of HB 105 is to reimagine a Catawba campus that brings together the public and private sectors and coordinates a comprehensive continuum of care connecting services like sober living and transitional housing, access to workforce development — linked with community-based opportunities.

Success would take a community-backed effort with all sectors playing a role so that families could be reunited, employment could be pursued, lives could be rebuilt with a meaningful future in recovery.

Missing in our region are the full range of residential and outpatient facilities and services needed to offer bridges across highly vulnerable junctures between incarceration and reentry, hospitalization and community-based secure housing, losing one’s family and job and regaining the basic elements for building a life.

A Blueprint for Action to create a recovery ecosystem has been constructed by the Roanoke Valley Collective Response.

More than 200 Roanoke Valley residents from every sector of our community have come together in this collaborative planning effort to identify these points of vulnerability, the key missing linkages and types of supports and services to more effectively and sustainably address the addiction crisis plaguing our community.

The Blueprint for Action recognizes the key role of peer recovery specialists, who can be the most effective pathway builders for individuals struggling to again find their footing.

As evident in the RV Collective Response, this community is willing to work together across jurisdictions, roles in society, backgrounds and experiences to find solutions.

This willingness to collaborate within our Roanoke Valley makes it an especially promising region for investing state resources toward the goal of solving complex problems.

Public-private partnerships, working together to provide services across the continuum in a thoughtful mix of residential and community-based programs, have so much potential for “moving the needle” in addressing health care priorities, as identified in local studies of what our community most direly needs.

For additional reasons, our Roanoke Valley region is particularly well suited for leveraging a state investment to strengthen mental health and addiction treatment services.

I admit to some bias, but I believe we have excellent psychiatric and addiction treatment capacity, a top-notch Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine training ever more future doctors, an internationally renowned Fralin Biomedical Research Institute on the leading edge of brain and addiction research. HB 105 could tap into these impressive assets in the Roanoke Valley to provide excellence in care.

Again, thank you to those elected officials who see this potential in proposing HB 105. Witnessing bipartisan efforts to improve the quality of life for all is just the type of good news to help offset the discouraging, discordant diatribes so often filling our newsfeeds.

Our challenges certainly are many and are heartbreaking, but when we are willing to work together to find common ground, there indeed is so much that can be accomplished.