WellSpace Health’s SURE Program Sees Early Success

As we continue preparing our response to the “Twindemic” of flu and COVID-19 this winter, I wanted to give you an update on the public health response we have built with the City of Sacramento – the Substance Use Respite and Engagement (SURE) program.

SURE opened on Oct. 1 with the primary intent of stopping the spread of COVID-19 among people who are acutely intoxicated. As I have shared before, people who are intoxicated are at risk for contracting or spreading COVID-19. While at SURE we provide our patients with a safe sobering space and attempt to engage them in services and reduce multiple future risks.

In the short time we have been open I’m pleased to share that we have evaluated all our patients for COVID-19 and none have required testing or additional COVID-19 care. This is a good indication that our community continues to stem the spread of the virus while we see a major surge of the virus nationwide.

Beyond our COVID-19 response, we have had some really successful engagements with patients at SURE.

The first patient referred to the program by the Sacramento Police Department was no stranger. It was somebody who was already receiving intensive outpatient care from our behavioural health team. Once engaged with SURE, we were able to re-connect him to his counselor and schedule an appointment for him upon discharge. It may seem minor, but in that moment, we closed a major gap in our behavioural health continuum of care. Our patient’s interaction with law enforcement was transformed from a stand-alone “criminal” encounter to a clinical touchpoint.

In another case, the police responded to a man who was waving a knife around in public. The man was high on methamphetamine and had been awake for two days. The officer engaged the patient and after safely disarming him, talked to him. Based on the conversation the officer determined that the patient needed care, not jail, so he was referred to SURE. That would be a wonderful success story on its own, but there’s more.

Once at SURE the patient remained non-violent and was provided with a variety of care and services. However, our nursing staff noticed he had laboured breathing and low oxygen levels. They determined he needed a higher level of care and were able to get him to the hospital. Thanks to the police and our SURE team this patient avoided jail and was provided multiple levels of more appropriate care that will bring him one step closer to better health.

New stories like these emerge every day and are quickly solidifying our belief that SURE was a desperately needed program in our local community. It fills a gap in our continuum of care and provides our partners with the resources they need to help people who have been ignored or incarcerated for far too long.

As always, thank you to our colleagues in SURE who are serving our patients 24/7 and all those behind the scenes who keep the program running. This is an exciting new endeavour and I am grateful to each of you for making it work.

Be well,