Identifying a New Worker Pipeline to Address Demand for Addiction Treatment

In 2017, approximately 22 million teenagers and adults in the United States struggled with alcohol or drug addiction in the previous year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This number is expected to grow. The stigma associated with addiction prevents some people from getting treatment. On top of that, the shortage of clinicians, counselors, and other qualified staff is an ongoing issue for many healthcare providers in treating this large population.

To address community substance abuse problems and reduce the stigma that may keep patients from seeking care, Staten Island Performing Provider System (SI PPS) adopted an innovative approach which has both created jobs and improved patient outcomes.

SI PPS and its partners piloted a 30-hour recovery coach training program. They specifically recruit participants who themselves have experience with addiction or unhealthy substance use, thereby developing a peer support dynamic. SI PPS offers scholarships to make the training program accessible to more people. Trained recovery coaches are embedded in hospitals and recovery centers to provide people in crisis with counseling, resources, and connect them with a local treatment program. This approach allowed SI PPS to accomplish several business and patient care goals:

  • Identify an untapped talent pipeline to help meet the increased need for mental health and addiction services;
  • Improve population health by addressing social stigmas associated with addiction; and,
  • Expand access to the appropriate level of care for all patients.

By providing peer advocate and recovery coaches to patients in need of counseling and support, SI PPS found a clear reason why frontline worker investments improves the well-being of workers, patients, and the community. Their innovative approach to training and supporting frontline staff is the reason the National Fund recognized them as a 2018 CareerSTAT Frontline Healthcare Worker Emerging Champion. To learn more about SI PPS’ award-winning program, read their Champion profile here.