Heideveld drug programme keeps momentum

2017-01-17 06:01

Heideveld Day Hospital received an unexpected visitor on the first Tuesday of the year when provincial minister of health Nomafrench Mbombo walked through the door.

The unannounced visit came in the wake of the festive season which, according to the provincial health department, usually sees an increase in injured patients who seek help at emergency centres.

Mbombo’s visit was to look at how her department’s “Teachable Moments” intervention programme is doing at the hospital. The programme focuses on helping people who are injured as a result of substance abuse.

Mbombo says substance abuse has an influence in the frequency of interpersonal violence and injury.

“Research has shown that there is a strong correlation between the patients admitted to our facilities due to interpersonal violence and substance abuse. The Teachable Moments intervention is a direct response to this scourge,” adds Mbombo.

The intervention programme aims to provide screening, brief motivational interviewing and problem-solving therapy sessions to people who visit emergency centres with injuries that may be due to substance abuse.

The pilot intervention programme was rolled out in Heideveld, Paarl and Khayelitsha hospitals last year.

Half were assaultedOf the 125 patients screened by the provincial health department counsellors at Heideveld Day Hospital in August, when the programme started, 60 met the criteria to take part in the Teachable Moments intervention. Most of the patients were men.

Fifty-one of these patients agreed to the first session of counselling.

Out of the patients who participated in the intervention, 61% had injuries, with 4% of them getting hurt in road traffic accidents, 46% getting injured in assaults, 8% unintentionally and 3% due to self-harm.

Almost half of those patients say they were under the influence when they got injured. Almost a third were under the influence of alcohol, another third had used illegal drugs and the rest were drunk and had used drugs.

“Looking at the numbers, this intervention is a need for our communities as our people do need all the help they can get. We will never know why people are under substance abuse until someone speaks to them and empathises with their situation. The Teachable Moments intervention aims to dig deeper and look at the social aspect of our interventions in the province,” adds Mbombo.

“I would like to thank the University of Cape Town that has partnered with us and assisted us in employing and managing lay counsellors and the referral process.”

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