St. Joseph Hospital’s chief of emergency medicine, Dr. Deepak Vatti, has offered several trainings to frontline medical workers as part of a pilot program to aid in early identification of brain injury in substance use disorder (SUD) patients who have experienced an overdose. This innovative new program is especially relevant at a time when more Granite Staters are struggling with opioid addiction.
The 22-month grant, awarded by the Foundation for Healthy Communities, is raising awareness about the connection between SUD and brain injury, an often-overlooked or undiagnosed condition. Under Vatti’s leadership, the program has partnered with the Brain Injury Association of NH (BIANH) to offer provider training and outreach within New Hampshire about this important issue. Most critically, when screening for potential brain injury in SUD patients, hospital medical staff are now trained to refer individuals and their families to meaningful resources for follow-up care and treatment.
Extending program impact, the initiative is also now a part of the hospital’s successful Mobile Healthcare Clinic (MHC), as Vatti serves as the MHC medical director. The rolling, fully equipped medical facility has regularly scheduled programs at various locations across Nashua, including the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter and Day Cafe – an outreach program of St. Patrick Parish offering conversation and fellowship for community members in need of support and stability. Now that MHC staff (including nurse practitioners and EMTs) have also been training thanks to this grant, SUD patients seeking walk-in medical care from the MHC will also be screened for potential co-occurring brain injury.
The pilot program ended in June 2023, but continued positive patient outcomes are anticipated given increased provider awareness of SUD/brain injury connection and the hospital’s strengthened relationship with BIANH.