Rapid Access to Alcohol Withdrawal

Rapid Access to Medically Supported Alcohol Withdrawal Now Available at The Royal

OTTAWA (June 7, 2016) – The Alcohol Medical Intervention Clinic (AMIC) is a new outpatient clinic at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre to provide quick follow up services for people with significant, potentially life-threatening alcohol problems.

The clinic, a two-year pilot project that opened May 26, 2016, provides fast medically supported withdrawal for people who have been referred by The Ottawa Hospital Emergency Department.

“We know that the vast majority of people who go to emergency rooms due to substance abuse are there because of alcohol,” said Dr. Kim Corace, program development director and co-creator along with Dr. Melanie Willows, clinical director of The Royal’s Substance Use and Concurrent Disorders program (SUCD). “We also know that people with alcohol addiction tend to be high repeat users of the emergency rooms, either for intoxication, withdrawal, or for injuries that happen as a result of intoxication,” Dr. Corace said.

“They are treated and released but generally speaking,” Dr. Willows added, “they tend to not get follow up care to address the addiction, often times because of the wait involved in accessing care.”

Staffed by two nurses, a social worker and addiction medicine doctors from The Royal’s SUCD program, the clinic will provide same day or next-day access to short-term medical withdrawal management support, while working with clients to find an appropriate community or hospital-based program for longer-term support.

“The goal is to reduce the number of repeat visits to emergency departments and demands on paramedic services, reducing the strain on limited resources and ultimately help people with alcohol addictions,” said The Royal’s President and CEO George Weber.

The project was developed in collaboration with The Ottawa Hospital’s Emergency Department and Psychiatric Emergency Services, and other community partners including the Ottawa Paramedic Service, Monfort Renaissance and the Champlain Local Health Integration Network. It will run until March 2018, and will receive approximately $430,000 each year from the Champlain LHIN.

About the Clinic

  • Patients referred from The Ottawa Hospital Emergency Department will be seen in the clinic at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, 1145 Carling Ave., Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 11a.m. People are encouraged to go to the clinic as soon as possible after being discharged from the emergency department.
  • Patients will be assessed for their treatment needs and may receive medication for alcohol withdrawal management and/or anti-craving medication. Clinic staff will provide management and monitoring of the patient on an outpatient basis.
  • Assessment for further treatment needs either within The Royal’s Substance Use and Concurrent Disorders program or with a community treatment agency will be provided, including linking patients to these services.
  • For those with severe alcohol addiction, withdrawal can be potentially life threatening with possible symptoms including seizures, delirium, elevated blood pressure and heart rate. In these types of cases, the withdrawal process can be eased by medication under medical supervision.

What Our Partners Said:

"This program is important for two reasons. First, it will improve access to addiction services for people in our region. Second, it will help prevent emergency room visits and hospital admissions and readmissions. There is a real demand for this type of program in Champlain, and the LHIN is proud to be a key planning and funding partner in the initiative."

"We know that for patients suffering from alcoholism, repeat visits to the Emergency Department are common and patients often present to us at the lowest point of their disease. It is at this juncture that the window of opportunity to intervene presents itself and a rapid access multidisciplinary team such as the one created at The Royal will go a long way to filling a desperate need in our community. With this new initiative, we hope to demonstrate reduced Emergency visits, through a real reduction in the unhealthy behaviour and psychosocial consequences of this challenging illness."

"The Ottawa Paramedic Service has been actively working with the Ottawa Hospital and other community partners and is pleased to see this unique program having come to fruition. This vulnerable segment of our community is in emergent need of these services that deliver such specialized care. It is progressive and innovative ways like this that help to reduce the demand on our service and on the number of repeat visits to the emergency departments. We are very proud to be a partner in this initiative."