SRMC creates peer support program for substance use patients

LUMBERTON — Southeastern Regional Medical Center patients with substance-use conditions now have access to peer support specialists, thanks to a $180,000 grant from the North Carolina Healthcare Association.

The Hospital Based Certified Peer Support Specialist Program is a one-year pilot program, modeled after a successful peer support program at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

“Our certified peer support specialists are in recovery themselves, and they are available to share their stories with doctors and patients,” said Anthony Grimaldi, Southeastern Health’s director of Behavioral Health. “They have been formally trained to provide peer support services to hospital patients. They are often the lifeline for patients who have minimal support in recovery.”

The peer support program is available to patients at SRMC who have been administered Narcan, are suffering from an overdose, are suffering from alcohol or substance use withdrawal, or are suspected of suffering from alcohol or substance misuse and abuse.

“Our No. 1 goal is to engage with these patients, establish a rapport, and then support and encourage them to accept treatment recommendations and follow through with those recommendations,” Grimaldi said.

The hospital has hired two peer support specialists and a support team for this program. Both specialists have been in recovery for at least three years and are certified by the state after passing 40 hours of training and exams.

Grimaldi said the specialists are a bridge between the patient in crisis and community-based care.

“Peer specialists have walked the walk that our patients must go through to establish and maintain recovery,” he said. “They know firsthand what it is like to be in the grip of addiction and, more importantly, know what it is like to embrace recovery.”


By Roxana Ross

Roxana Ross is content writer/photographer for Southeastern Health in the Corporate Communications department.