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Morrisey Tours Reynolds’ BreakThru Program

W.Va. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, center, speaks with Dr. David Hess, right, and Mike Ortiz, left, on addiction treatment programs at WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital.

GLEN DALE — Seeking to learn how addiction is treated at a personal level while he works to battle the opioid crisis on a national level, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey toured the BreakThru medical managed withdrawal program in Marshall County.

Morrisey met with Dr. David Hess, president and CEO of WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital, and Mike Ortiz, vice president of clinical operations, during a brief tour of the hospital’s facilities Thursday. Morrisey said he hoped the trip would give him a better understanding of the issues plaguing the Mountain State.

“There are so many issues pending in our office,” Morrisey said. “I deal with health centers up and down the state. … Everyone is knee-deep in these issues, and what better way to learn than to listen to experts in the field? … It’ll help us do our jobs just a little bit better in the AG’s office.

“In West Virginia, there’s a real need for a wide variety of programs so you can see what works,” he continued. “We want to attack the problem holistically, from the supply side, but when you’re talking about treatment, there’s no one way to lead our way out of this crisis — there’s no one program. There are many, and those will work for a variety of types of people. It’s going to take a lot of different initiatives to really break the back of this epidemic.”

Hess said the BreakThru program was intended to be a first step for those seeking help to manage their addiction.

“We kept hearing in the community that there was an intense need for a program that could be a ‘first phone call’ for those with addiction,” Hess said. “I kept hearing from patients and families that they didn’t know who the first person to call should be if they wanted to get off a narcotic or pain pill. Really, they’d bounce in and out of emergency rooms and didn’t get good access to health care. … We were really the first community hospital to jump up and say, ‘We want to take care of people with addiction.'”

Ortiz said around 17 to 20 people come in per month to BreakThru, which was established about four years ago. Treatment in BreakThru involves managing the symptoms of addiction and withdrawal, as well as helping victims form a plan after their discharge from the program.

“Three days of being in a hospital isn’t going to necessarily be enough for someone to enter recovery,” Martha M. Polinsky, care coordinator at BreakThru, said. “We’d either send them, depending on how severe their addiction is, what they’re using, what they want, we’ll send them on to … anywhere across the state: residential treatment, medically assisted treatment, a shot and a counselor, depending on what’s appropriate for them.”

Morrisey asked those who had suffered with withdrawal, or who are doing so currently, to come seek treatment, and also to work with community groups to fight addiction at its source.

“For those who are afflicted, there are people out there who care a lot about you,” Morrisey said. “The most important thing that we want to show is that we care, and you have to get into a loving support group where you’re with other people. There are growing options in West Virginia, and we’re making some progress, but there’s so much more to do.

“If you fell prey to addiction any number of years ago, we need your help. Step up, get in the front lines of the community action groups who are going to be the ones to fight this problem. That’s the best way we can take our state back.”

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