Lutz Foundation Takes Aim at Opioid Crisis

Two Grants to Beverly Hospital Will Expand Treatment, Help Caregivers

The opioid epidemic has hit Essex County hard, with 284 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2016 — a grim statistic that places Essex second only to Middlesex as the county with the most such fatalities in Massachusetts.

The statistics, however, are only part of the story. Addiction takes a terrible toll on individuals, families and communities. Patients struggling with substance use disorders can be some of the most challenging and difficult to treat, with their caregivers suffering from stress and burnout.

In response, the Evelyn Lilly Lutz Foundation recently awarded Beverly Hospital two grants to confront addiction on two fronts — by expanding medication-assisted treatment for patients and creating training and support programs for caregivers. These grants totaling $185,000 will support programs designed to address substance abuse on the North Shore in partnership with Lahey Health Behavioral Services and Addison Gilbert Hospital.

“This demonstrates the Lutz Foundation’s desire to have an impact and elevate our ability to innovate and deliver world-class care,” said Rebecca Imperiali, Vice President of Philanthropy at Beverly and Addison Gilbert hospitals.

Equestrian accident leads to 70 years of support

The Lutz Foundation’s relationship with Beverly Hospital goes back seven decades. “In 1947, Evelyn Lilly Roberts fell off her horse and was taken to Beverly Hospital,” Imperiali said. “Dr. Richard Alt took exceedingly good care of her and she made a full recovery. Her father, Eli Lilly, was so grateful for the kindness shown to his daughter, he asked, ‘What can I do to help?’ Dr. Alt said, ‘I would like money to do medical research here at Beverly Hospital.'”

The Evelyn Lilly Lutz Foundation was founded in 1949 as a nonprofit organization engaged in supporting and encouraging medical research and continuing education in connection with Beverly Hospital. Over the years, it has also supported capital improvements to the hospital’s medical equipment and technologies. Now, with the opioid crisis afflicting so many North Shore communities, the foundation wanted to respond.

“Beverly and Addison Gilbert hospitals have been at the forefront of fighting this opioid epidemic,” said Suzanne Graves, MD, the foundation’s president. “Substance abuse continues to be the greatest threat in the North Shore, and we are proud to support these hospitals as they work tirelessly to confront these important issues.”

The need is critical: Beverly and Addison Gilbert hospitals treat about 3,000 inpatients a year who present with substance abuse as a primary or secondary diagnosis. This includes not only opioid drug users but patients struggling with alcohol abuse, which remains a deadly public health problem.

Medication-assisted treatment will expand

One grant, totaling $110,000, will expand evidence-based medication-assisted treatment programs in Danvers and Gloucester. These programs will offer all three opioid addiction treatment medications (methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol) under one roof—giving caregivers more options to address each patient’s needs. Studies have shown that medication-assisted treatment, combined with counseling and community re-engagement, provides the best results for patients while improving their quality of life.

A second grant, totaling $75,000, will be used to train staff in caring for the special demands of patients with substance use disorders. The grant supports hiring of a social worker to help them avoid “compassion fatigue.” The grant will also underwrite meditative staff rooms equipped with relaxing music and space for Reiki, hand massages and other helpful coping measures.

“Substance abuse has impacted communities across the nation,” Imperiali said. “We want to provide a lifeline for patients and families and turn the tide on addiction. With the Lutz Foundation’s support, we hope to create innovative programs for substance abuse treatment and caregiver support that could serve as a model for the rest of the country.”