Fighting addiction in Western Tidewater

Published 3:54 pm Saturday, September 8, 2018


Southampton Memorial Hospital has begun a medical detoxification unit in an effort to fight the opioid crisis in Virginia. It’s the only medical detox unit connected directly to a hospital in the Western Tidewater Health District. The program’s goal is to empower patients to develop effective strategies that will help them to achieve and maintain sobriety by learning new ways to cope with addiction.

According to the hospital’s CEO Kim Marks, the state made it easier for Southampton’s team administrators to initiate the medical detoxification unit program.

“In April 2017, Virginia introduced the Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services program which allows insurance reimbursement for treating the opioid crisis,” Marks said, “We have been looking to initiate the detoxification unit program for over a year, and we finally got to launch the program on June 4 of this year.”

The unit is led by Dr. Sonya L. Lee, who is the manager of Behavior Health at the hospital. Ten years ago, Dr. Lee became involved in substance abuse disorder after she completed her internship with the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Virginia Beach. She became fascinated with helping those who struggle with various substance use disorders integrate back into society and achieve and sustain sobriety and recovery. Her desire to be actively involved in her community motivated her to become involved in fighting the opioid epidemic. As the head of the Southampton’s medical detoxification unit, Dr. Lee ensures that the program meets all of the requirements to remain licensed.

“I am directly responsible for intake, assessments and the treatment curriculum. All of the counselors in the program are master level-certified substance abuse counselors. I ensure that the staff remains current of all of the new treatment trends in the substance use disorder arena,” said Lee, “ I am very hands on with the program, and often I am directly involved in the individual, group or family counseling. I ensure that every patient is assisted in securing an appropriate level of care for continuing treatment at discharge, whether that treatment is outpatient, partial hospitalization or residential.”

Sharon Ricks, RN and nursing manager, works alongside Dr. Lee to help with patient intake, medication, and assessments.

“I have been working at Southampton Memorial for years, and I just have this passion for helping people,” said Ricks, “ With the Medical Detox Unit, our job is to help our patients progress and in order for them to live normal lives.”

“People who are addicted can’t stop using drugs, even when they really want to. Their priorities change and getting drugs can become more important than their loved one, responsibilities, and life goals,” Lee said, “At Southampton Memorial Hospital, we like to think that our detox unit provides the first step in the journey towards recovery.”

Patients who are admitted to the unit are provided with 24-hour nursing care, group therapy, and personalized nutrition along with a seven-day detox program that medically treats the symptoms of withdrawal and develops specific treatment plans. The unit also offers voluntary and individualized drug and alcohol treatment programs that provide medical detox for people struggling from abuse of, addiction to or dependence on prescription drugs, street drugs, over the counter drugs, and/or alcohol.

Southampton Memorial Hospital provides level 3.7 medical inpatient withdrawal management in a secure environment. In level 3.7 withdrawal management, SMH provides:

  • Availability of specialized clinical consultation and supervised for biomedical, emotional, behavioral and cognitive problems.
  • Availability of medical nursing care and observation as warranted based on clinical judgement.
  • Direct affiliation with other levels of care (outpatient, intensive outpatient, residential and/or medication assisted treatment).

The medical detox unit accepts most commercial insurance, Medicare and private-pay sources. Plus, it offers private rooms in a safe and confidential environment where patients can focus on recovery with 12-step meetings along with family along with family or group therapy if needed.  If anyone is seeking help with their addiction or knows someone who is struggling with addiction, they can call either call the local number, 569-6350 or the toll free number, 833-887-1988. Licensed hospital professionals are available 24/7 to assist callers with program admission.