NEW YORK — The medical center in Philadelphia that opened with a “brutal” amputation program has become the site of a new program to alleviate the pain of the city’s opioid overdose crisis.
The emergency room at Mercy Medical Center has become a place where people who are receiving medical treatment in a rehabilitation center can seek help for their opioid use, officials said Thursday.
The center opened Thursday, two weeks after the city approved a $1.9 billion injection of $8.2 billion in federal funds into opioid treatment.
That funding will be used to build a 24-bed emergency room for the chronically ill, which will be able to treat more than 4,000 people.
“We’re hoping to make the transition to a hospital where they can get help for the opioid addiction crisis,” said Kelly Houlihan, director of operations for Mercy, which was founded by the Rev. James McLean and is the only health care facility in Philadelphia where opioid overdoses are a major health concern.
Dr. Houlighan said the hospital’s first patient is expected in a week.
The new facility, which opened in December, will include a 24/7 opioid clinic, and its staff will be trained in the use of pain medications to treat patients who have overdosed on heroin, fentanyl, morphine and oxycodone, the drugs that caused the overdose in which the person dies.
The program will also provide support to people with other health problems, including those who are taking opioid medications to manage their pain and anxiety, said Dr. John Gantt, director and medical director of Mercy Medical.
Houlihin said Mercy has trained a team of nurses, doctors and other health care professionals in how to provide pain medication to those in need of it.
“It’s a very challenging situation for our community and we’re taking every step we can to make sure we have the support to help these people who have a hard time getting medical treatment, she said.
Reached by phone Thursday, Houli said Mercy plans to offer the same services to its patients who are in other rehab facilities.
A woman with a leg amputated from a gunshot wound at Mercy, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2018.
The program will begin with three patients in a recovery center and expand to include patients in the hospital and a nursing home.
The facility, located at the corner of West 25th Street and North Street in Philadelphia, opened in October with $8 million in federal funding.
Its budget is $9.2 million.
Houligahn said the facility is one of the first centers in the country to offer services to opioid users.
Maddie Kallstrom, an administrator with the Pennsylvania Coalition for Addiction Recovery, said she had been working on a patient advocacy group called Mercy for 20 years.
She said she was inspired to launch the organization after seeing the opioid crisis firsthand.
Kallstrom said she has heard from patients who had their legs amputated, but the amputation has taken years to heal.”
People have been able to get their leg back.
They’ve been able in some cases to get them into jobs,” she said Thursday morning.
She said many patients will be getting their amputations before they can fully recover, but she also said that the recovery program will help them regain some of their independence.
There is no set timeline for when the program will be implemented, but it is expected to take about six months.
Gantt said Mercy Medical’s addiction rehab program will include three patients who will be taken to a rehabilitation facility in the city, where they will be treated with pain medication.
“That will take a few years.” “
The primary goal is to help patients regain some independence,” Gantting said.
“That will take a few years.”
The program’s first step will be a new center at the Philadelphia Health System, which has opened in 2017 with a $2 million injection of federal funds.
The center, located in the West End section of Philadelphia, will open this week.