A program that pairs overdose patients with recovery coaches is expanding countywide, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced Thursday.

Expanding the program, which is a partnership between the county and Safe Communities — a nonprofit that works on improving health and safety issues in Dane County — is an effort to intervene in the growing opioid epidemic.

Through this program, people admitted to the emergency room for an overdose are matched with a recovery coach. Recovery coaches, who are state-certified and also in recovery, can identify with patients’ experiences and connect them with immediate treatment.

“With this expansion, we will be the only county in the nation with this comprehensive approach to connect people in need with the help they need,” Parisi said.

The pilot program has been available in the Emergency Department at SSM Health St. Mary’s, UW Health’s University Hospital and the American Center, and SSM Health St. Mary’s in Sun Prairie. With the expansion, programs will launch in the emergency departments at Unity Point Health Meriter and Stoughton Hospital, police departments in the county and EMS agencies in the coming weeks.

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