Thousands of Patients Referred to Substance Use Treatment at MedStar Hospitals

SBIRT Program Intervenes with Patients with Substance Abuse Problems

March 5, 2018

BALTIMORE, Md.—(March 5, 2018)—In the 18 months following MedStar Health’s launch of the Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment program known as SBIRT,  more than 3,500 patients struggling with substance abuse have been referred to treatment.

The nationally recognized, evidence-based program rolled out in August 2016 in each of MedStar Health’s four Baltimore hospitals: MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, MedStar Good Samaritan, MedStar Union Memorial and MedStar Harbor Hospitals.

As the nation struggles with the opioid epidemic and a spike in fentanyl-related overdoses, emergency departments are often on the front line in treating patients with addiction. These patients often return to the emergency department again and again, and without an interventional program like SBIRT, could see their addiction and overall health worsen.

Under the program, which is conducted in partnership with Mosaic Group, a Maryland healthcare consulting firm, all patients in the emergency department are screened for risky substance abuse behaviors. If the screening indicates a moderate or high risk, a peer recovery coach uses motivational interviewing techniques in an attempt to promote the patient’s own desire to change. The peer recovery coach then offers additional evaluation and referral services for high-risk patients.

Troy Robinson, a peer recovery coach at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, struggled with alcohol abuse and has had family members who have had substance use issues. The peer recovery coaches in the program must have been sober for at least three years and in a support program themselves.

Robinson said her personal experience has made it easier to relate to the patients and offer them the right support.

“It’s more than just ‘let me get you into a peer recovery place,’” Robinson said. “We go over plans, I meet with them. ‘Let’s help you become a better you.’ I really love what I do and it’s helping me grow as a person as well.”

Given its success in the Baltimore MedStar hospitals, the SBIRT program has expanded to other MedStar hospital emergency departments and primary care clinics across the MedStar system. 

The SBIRT program at MedStar is largely funded through grants awarded by Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore.

From August 1, 2016 to December 31, 2017:

SBIRT: MedStar (Adult patients 18+)

Number of SBIRT screens –243,141

Number of positive screens – 31,308

Number of brief interventions – 12,221

Number of referrals to treatment – 3,688

About MedStar Health

MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit

Media Contacts

Debra Schindler
Regional Director, Media & Public Relations, MedStar Health Baltimore
[email protected]

Carrie Wells
Media Relations Specialist, MedStar Health Baltimore
[email protected]