Peer Specialist Integration with Law Enforcement and Hospitals (COAT) – Wicomico County
Launched in 2016, the Wicomico County Community Outreach Addiction Team (COAT) partners with State’s Attorney’s office, Peninsula Regional Medical Center, and the Sheriff’s Department in order to link those suffering from a substance use disorder in Wicomico County to the resources they need.
The Wicomico County Health Department administers COAT. The State’s Attorney’s office provides legal guidance on how to deal with overdoses. The Sheriff’s Department provides on-the-ground assistance, such as real-time ride-alongs for peer support specialists so they can respond to overdoses in a timely manner. The Sheriff’s Department seeks to bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement and encourage cooperation in order to end this epidemic by also visiting patients after their overdose to see how they are doing.
Employed by the County Health Department, peer support specialists are individuals that at one time had a substance use disorder. However, with help and treatment, they now offer support and guidance to others fighting a substance use disorder. Their goal is to develop a personal relationship with the patients and personally recommend them to treatment programs.
COAT has served 183 patients, 101 of which entered into treatment. Additionally, COAT was recently awarded as a promising practice by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). They hope to eventually be recognized as a best practice by the state. COAT has, and will continue, to save lives.
A veteran who was addicted while in service reached out to a COAT member seeking treatment. His girlfriend, who was pregnant, was very frustrated with him and wanted him to change his lifestyle. COAT connected him to treatment and he eventually went into inpatient treatment. Later, he invited the COAT member who helped him to visit him, his girlfriend, and their baby. He has been clean and sober, and his eyes now shine with hope.
Interested in learning more? Contact:
Deputy Health Officer, Wicomico County Health Department