SwedishAmerican has been recognized by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) as one of only 14 Illinois hospitals that will participate in its Warm Hand-off Program to combat opioid addiction.

The IDHS Hospital Warm Hand-off Program connects recovery support specialists directly to patients with opioid use disorder while they are in the hospital recovering from an overdose or receiving other hospital treatment.

The Illinois Department of Public Health’s data shows that opioid overdoses killed 2,202 people in Illinois in 2017 alone – more than one and a half times the number of homicides and nearly twice the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents.

“It’s just going to continue to grow and grow unless we do something,” said Ann Gantzer, Vice President of Health and Patient Services and the Chief Nursing Officer at SwedishAmerican. “With this grant, SwedishAmerican will continue to be there for our citizens and be one of the champions to help address addiction issues. We can now be involved from start to finish in their care, which is different than what we have now.”

SwedishAmerican will now have a recovery specialist that will do a Warm Hand-off with a patient when they leave the hospital to enter a treatment center. The grant will allow SwedishAmerican to hire and train nine new employees to be involved in the collaborative relationship between the patient and recovery support specialist.

“The grant will allow us to provide transportation to a treatment center for the patient, and the recovery specialist will then continue to care for and support the client for up to one year,” said Amy Kirsch, the Director of Psychiatric Services for SwedishAmerican. “This means we are not just giving a referral on paper. We are actually going to the treatment facility and providing ongoing care management.”

SwedishAmerican is the only local hospital that will receive the state grant opportunity. The complete list of the IDHS Warm Hand-off Hospitals are:

  • Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn, IL
  • Advocate Condell, Libertyville, IL
  • Advocate Good Shepherd, Barrington, IL
  • Alton Memorial Hospital, Alton, IL
  • Cook County Health and Hospital System, Chicago, IL
  • Methodist Hospital, Chicago, IL
  • Methodist Medical Center of Illinois, Peoria, IL
  • Mount Sinai Hospital and Medical Center, Chicago, IL
  • Norwegian American Hospital, Chicago, IL
  • Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center, Chicago, IL
  • Roseland Community Hospital, Chicago, IL
  • Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL
  • Silver Cross Hospital, New Lenox (Joliet), IL
  • Southern Illinois Healthcare (encompasses three hospitals)
    • Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, Carbondale, IL
    • Herrin Hospital, Herrin, IL
    • St. Joseph Hospital, Murphysboro, IL
  • Swedish American Hospital, Rockford, IL
  • St. Anthony Hospital, Chicago, IL
  • St. Bernard Hospital, Chicago, IL
  • Thorek Hospital, Chicago, IL
  • University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, Chicago, IL
  • Vista Medical Center East, Waukegan, IL

For further information, contact:

Emily Tropp


About SwedishAmerican

A division of UW Health, SwedishAmerican is dedicated to providing excellence in healthcare and compassionate care to the community. The organization serves residents of 12 counties in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin through a dedicated and caring staff, a major acute care hospital and a free-standing outpatient cancer center in Rockford, a medical center in Belvidere, a network of 30 primary care and multi-specialty clinics and the region’s largest home healthcare agency. Additionally, SwedishAmerican has achieved Magnet® recognition as a reflection of its nursing professionalism, teamwork and superiority in patient care.