The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) recently highlighted the work of Mercy Serves, a Mercy Health AmeriCorps program, in a publication titled “A Promising Response to the Opioid Crisis: CNCS-Supported Recovery Coach Programs.”

Mercy Serves is an 11-month long service and learning program that seeks to build the health care leaders of tomorrow through intensive professional development and leadership training opportunities within Mercy Health. Since 2017, Mercy Serves AmeriCorps’ 10-person team has been helping patients with substance abuse disorder who visit Mercy Health’s emergency departments in Ohio. The Mercy Serves team’s goal is to lower the rate of substance abuse in the state. This program presents an unprecedented approach to both the opiate crisis and leadership development within the health care industry.

Located at Mercy Health emergency departments in Cincinnati and Toledo, the Mercy Serves members provide education, treatment placement and emotional support to emergency department patients with substance abuse disorders using the SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment) model. Members work alongside nurses, providers and addiction counselors to ensure that any patient who is ready for substance abuse treatment receives the necessary resources to take that step toward recovery.

Mercy Serves is one of only 16 AmeriCorps programs in the country directly addressing the opioid epidemic and the only AmeriCorps program in Ohio doing so. To date, Mercy Serves members have provided opioid education and information on recovery services to nearly 5,000 patients. 

CNCS’ Office of Research and Evaluation highlighted their work in a publication examining the impact of the recovery coach model on intervention programs.

Mercy Serves is one intervention in Mercy Health’s multifaceted approach to address the growing opioid epidemic. Other interventions include reducing the amount of opiate prescriptions, investing in supporting technologies, offering voluntary inpatient detox and partnering in prevention, awareness and harm reduction efforts.