Drug help at hand
DOCTORS and nurses at Joondalup Health Campus (JHC) know the scourge of drug addiction in the northern suburbs better than most.
Last year there were nearly 20 referrals per week from the hospital to an in-house drug addiction service.
Recent Department of Health data showed the Joondalup emergency department treated about two crystal methamphetamine-affected patients a day.
Such figures align with national wastewater study findings this month which indicated Perth residents were second only to Adelaide as the heaviest users of methamphetamine. The study also found ecstasy and cocaine use in the city had increased.
The use of illicit substances has meant addiction services are under immense pressure.
But help is at hand in the northern suburbs. According to the Mental Health Commission, substance abuse treatment in Perth’s north is among the best in WA.
The commission recently acknowledged a groundbreaking collaboration between JHC and two community health services as the most effective partnership in the state for drug and alcohol addiction therapy.
The hospital has partnered with the North Metro Community Alcohol and Drug Service (NMCADS) and Joondalup Community Mental Health to offer a more rounded approach to treatment.
Senior doctor Richard O’Regan, who is associated with the NMCADS, hoped recognition from the commission would shore up support for the initiative.
“This award recognises a project that has never occurred in WA before. It’s like opening a door for these people to get the longer term help they need,” he said.
JHC mental health services manager Linda Locke said the collaboration meant counselling and medical help continued for patients once they left hospital.
The services can be accessed only upon referral from the hospital.
One part of the program is an “inreach” service, which had nearly 1000 referrals – just under a 20 a week – to it last year.
The service comprises a clinical nurse and an addiction medicine consultant, both from NMCADS.
Clinical nurse specialist Greg Gordon, who has been a part of the project since its inception, explained how it integrated with hospital procedure.
“When a nurse, doctor – or anyone else caring for a patient – identifies that the patient may have a drug or alcohol issue, they now ask if they would like to have contact with the drug and alcohol ‘inreach’ team, who can provide them with an assessment, advice on treatment and support options,” he said.
The winners of the 2018 Mental Health Commission’s Alcohol & Other Drugs Excellence Awards.