Opioid Overdose Recovery Program Launched In Somerset County


Opioid Overdose Recovery Program Launched In Somerset Couty

SOMERVILLE, NJ — The opioid epidemic continues to grow in New Jersey and in Somerset County. Almost 100 people already this year have been treated for narcotic overdose.

To help stop the cycle, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Somerset, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, in partnership with with the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office, launched the Opioid Overdose Recovery Program (OORP) at the Somerville campus.

"Before OORP, many reversed survivors of naloxone were trapped in a cycle of repeated drug use and may not have received the necessary treatment and recovery support services," said Connie Greene, Vice President, RWJBarnabas Health's Institute for Prevention. "The OORP seeks to change this by helping to link individuals who were reversed from an opioid overdose and admitted to select emergency departments, like RWJUH Somerset, to recovery support services and substance use disorder treatment."

In 2016, Narcan, an opiate antidote used to treat narcotic overdose in emergency situations, was administered to 126 individuals brought by ambulance to RWJUH Somerset's Emergency Department. This year from January to September, RWJUH Somerset has already had 94 cases where Narcan was administered, according to the hospital.

The program, which is currently in 14 hospitals throughout the state, was launched in January 2016.

Unique to this program, all of the trained staff called "recovery specialists" are recovering addicts as well. The recovery specialists meet with Narcan-reversed patients in the emergency departments to encourage the, to seek addiction treatment.

Once a person wants treatment, OORP patient navigators step in to provide assistance for clinical treatment and help patients to navigate through other challenges, such as housing or educational needs. Recovery services through the OORP are provided free of charge to patients.

At RWJUH Somerset, there will be 10 recovery specialists serving Somerset County who will be on call 24/7, ready to be deployed to the hospital within one hour of notification of a patient at RWJUH Somerset who was reversed with Narcan.

The initiative is funded by a grant administered by the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) within the Department of Human Services, and is the result of the collaborative efforts of the DMHAS, the Department of Children and Families and the Governor's Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

"The Somerset County Prosecutor's Office in its continued effort to combat the opioid/heroin epidemic and in partnership with RWJ Somerset is proud and excited to introduce the Opioid Overdose Recovery Program. It is a vital step in the battle to fight addiction and has proven to be extremely effective in areas of New Jersey where it has already been introduced," said Michael H. Robertson, Somerset County Prosecutor. 

The RWJBarnabas Health OORP is currently available in the following RWJBarnabas Health facilities: Jersey City Medical Center, RWJBarnabas Health at Bayonne, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Clara Mass Medical Center, Saint Barnabas Medical Center, RWUH-Somerset, RWJUH-Rahway, RWJUH New Brunswick, Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood and Community Medical Center in Toms River.

For further information about the OORP, call RWJBarnabas Health Institute for Prevention at 732-914- 3815.

(Image via Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Somerset: From left - Somerset County Prosecutor Michael Robertson, Connie Greene, Vice President, RWJBarnabas Health's Institute for Prevention, Marc Milano, MD, medical director, Emergency Department, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset; and Tony Cava, president, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset)