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Detox Diligence
Frustrated by scant knowledge on treating addiction, two Bayview nurses establish a professional association

Ben Janvier and Peggy Kuta

On nurse Ben Janvier’s unit, business is booming. His 26-bed detoxification unit at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center is almost always filled. Last year, as many as 2,800 patients were admitted to the three-day inpatient program.

Patients here get physicals, lab work and meds to prevent seizures. They learn to manage withdrawal symptoms and go through Alcoholics/Narcotics Anonymous’ 12-step program. It’s all part of what Janvier calls a blueprint for recovery. “The key is to get them into an environment where there’s support,” he says. “If we get one or two people to stay clean and sober, we’ve been successful.”

But success for chemical dependency nurses is elusive. “The hardest part about our field is recognizing that addiction is a chronic illness,” says Janvier. “So many people come back.”

Frustrated by a general lack of knowledge about how to best care for addicts, Janvier, with 20 years’ experience as an addictions nurse, decided to network with other professionals on managing this challenging population. Together with resource nurse Peggy Kuta, he founded the Maryland Association of Chemical Dependency Nurses, the first professional organization of its kind in the region. “We wanted to provide an environment that promotes a superior level of knowledge in this field.”

The group’s inaugural meeting in January drew about 45 people, including nurses from Hopkins Hospital, Bayview, Franklin Square, Sinai, Maryland General and an Eastern Shore hospital. A Baltimore City police officer and a pastor addressed the group. “All perspectives on addiction are important,” stresses Janvier.

MACDN will hold quarterly meetings and share evidence-based findings in the field of addiction. The organization is currently developing a certification process, which will involve 4,000 hours of chemical dependency nursing and an exam.

Anne Kelly, a clinical nurse on Bayview’s outpatient detox unit, says the professional association is long overdue. “For an addiction problem this big, we simply don’t have enough educational support,” she says. The advantage of pooling knowledge, adds Kelly, is to learn about alternative approaches to addiction and to become more aware of what Hopkins patients have experienced in other rehab programs.

Just two months since its formation, MACDN boasts 123 members. “Even we are surprised,” says Janvier, “at how fast this has taken off.”

Judy Minkove

Info: The next MACDN meeting, scheduled for April 26, takes place at Franklin Square Hospital. For details, 410-574-0096.


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