As Part of HealingNYC, Health Department Announces Buprenorphine Treatment in Six Emergency Departments

Maimonides Medical Center, NYU Langone–Brooklyn, Richmond University Medical Center, Staten Island University Hospital, NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue and NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan will offer buprenorphine

In 2017, over 14,000 New Yorkers received buprenorphine to treat their opioid addiction

Medications for addiction treatment, including buprenorphine, are the most effective treatment for an opioid addiction and can also reduce the risk of overdose

August 21, 2018 — As part of HealingNYC, the Health Department announced today that six emergency departments now offer buprenorphine so patients can start to treat their opioid addiction before they leave the hospital. The locations are: Maimonides Medical Center, NYU Langone Hospital–Brooklyn, Richmond University Medical Center, Staten Island University Hospital, NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue and NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan. Medications for addiction treatment, including buprenorphine, are the most effective way to treat opioid addiction and can reduce the risk of overdose. By starting buprenorphine treatment at the emergency department, doctors can immediately give the medications to patients who experience a non-fatal overdose or are in active withdrawal. A patient can get a buprenorphine prescription for medication adequate to last until a follow-up appointment with a health care provider. New York City is one of the few cities in the country where buprenorphine treatment is offered in emergency departments. In order to prescribe buprenorphine for treatment of opioid addiction, clinicians must be trained and receive certification from the federal government. In 2017, more than 1,900 prescribers wrote at least one buprenorphine prescription in New York City.

“Surviving an overdose can prompt the decision to end opioid use and begin treatment,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “By offering buprenorphine in the emergency department, patients and providers can seize the moment and begin this essential medication.”

“Our public health system recognizes the importance of being able to offer a range of treatment options in a range of venues,” said Mitchell Katz, MD, president and chief executive officer at NYC Health + Hospitals. “Often, a visit to the emergency department is just the moment when a patient is finally ready to consider medication-assisted therapy, and having options, including buprenorphine, can help a patient come to the conclusion that this is the right time to make a meaningful life change.”

“We have been providing this type of advanced treatment in our emergency room for many years,” said Samuel T. Stroupe, MD, Director of Psychiatric Emergency Services at NYU Langone Hospital–Brooklyn. “Timely interventions like these are saving lives and significantly increasing our patient’s ability to recover from opioid addiction. We feel strongly that these programs should be expanded everywhere.”

“The Maimonides Medical Center Emergency Department has been at the forefront of battling the opioid crisis from the beginning,” said Kenneth D. Gibbs, President and CEO of Maimonides. “We’re proud that alternatives to opioids have been studied extensively and utilized in our ED, and we participate in the NYC Relay Program to connect the survivors of overdoses to needed social services. Providing buprenorphine to appropriate patients is another valuable tool in helping our diverse patient base find the addiction treatment that will become a lasting solution for each of them.”

“Richmond University Medical Center continues to be at the forefront of Staten Island’s battle with the opioid crisis plaguing our borough,” Daniel J. Messina, Ph.D., FACHE, President and CEO of Richmond University Medical Center, said. “RUMC has long been a leader in implementing effective integrated behavioral medicine protocols to provide comprehensive mental health and substance use disorder treatment. By offering buprenorphine treatment in our emergency department, we are providing immediate help for people with opioid addiction.”

“Having the ability to offer immediate treatment with buprenorphine is another lifesaving tool for people with addiction in our community,” said Brahim Ardolic, MD, Executive Director at Staten Island University Hospital. “This initiative speaks to Northwell Health’s ongoing efforts to combat opioid abuse across the region. Collaborating with our local partners, providing these new services with ever-increasing awareness and education; all the while breaking stigmas about addiction will save lives.”

“Having access to lifesaving treatment is a critical first step in battling opioid addiction,” said Speaker Corey Johnson. “Thanks to these steps from the Department of Health, doctors can begin to offer better treatment for those in the throes of addiction. I thank the de Blasio administration for continuing to find ways to fight this epidemic – which has claimed far too many of our friends and neighbors – and for helping New Yorkers get the treatment they desperately need.”

“We must do all that we can across our healthcare services to combat the opioid addiction epidemic in Brooklyn,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “I commend Maimonides Medical Center and NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn for being at the forefront of this fight by offering lifesaving buprenorphine in their emergency departments. This is an important step in destigmatizing and addressing this critical public health issue, which has impacted thousands of lives across the borough.”

“Emergency departments are on the front line against the opioid epidemic,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. “Buprenorphine access is critical to recovery, and HealingNYC will ensure that this important first step happens as soon as possible.”

“As Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction, I am pleased to learn emergency departments in 4 of our City’s hospitals will offer buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is an effective treatment for people with opioid addiction, as it provides a level of convenience that other treatments do not. Ensuring increased access to this medication is crucial as we continue to combat the opioid crisis,” said Council Member Diana Ayala.

“In the midst of this opioid crisis, anything we can do to save lives and stop the deadly spiral of addiction is a positive,” said City Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo. “That is why it makes sense to have buprenorphine and naloxone treatment readily available in emergency rooms, particularly in a borough that has far too many opioid overdoses.”

“I am pleased that the Health Department will offer our local hospitals buprenorphine for opioid treatment before patients are released,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz. “Overdoses will be minimized and a safer environment created, helping save lives. This is a practical solution to a pressing problem that is so important.”

“Staten Islanders are among the hardest hit Americans in the opioid epidemic,” said Assemblyman Matthew Titone. “I’m heartened New York City recognizes the urgency here and is including both Staten Island University Hospital and Richmond University Medical Center in an innovative approach to help end this public health crisis.”

Over 10,000 non-fatal opioid overdoses occur in New York City every year. People who survive an opioid overdose are two to three times more likely to experience a fatal overdose than people who use drugs but have not had an overdose.

In 2017, over 14,000 New Yorkers received buprenorphine to treat their opioid addiction. Since May 2016, the Health Department has conducted 32 buprenorphine trainings, including ten on-site at NYC Health + Hospitals locations. As a result, an additional 1,058 prescribers across New York City are now trained to prescribe buprenorphine. Recently, the Health Department announced the buprenorphine nurse care manager initiative expansion to 26 community-based health centers citywide, which together have the capacity to serve over 5,000 patients. In addition, the Health Department supports buprenorphine treatment initiatives at four syringe exchange programs, which together serve more than 4,200 people who use drugs each year. Furthermore, the Health Department ran its “Living Proof” public education campaign that featured New Yorkers who are treating their opioid addiction with buprenorphine or methadone medication to raise awareness about the effectiveness of treatment with medication.

In New York City, someone dies of a drug overdose every seven hours. In 2017, provisional data show there were 1,441 overdose deaths; opioids were involved in more than 80 percent of those deaths. The number of drug overdoses remains at epidemic levels as illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a potent opioid, continues to be present in the drug supply. Non-pharmaceutical fentanyl has been found in heroin, cocaine, as well as in benzodiazepines and opioid painkillers.

Treatment with buprenorphine or methadone is highly effective and can reduce the risk of overdose. Individuals seeking support or treatment for substance use issues for themselves or their loved ones can contact NYC Well by calling 1-888-NYC-WELL, texting “WELL” to 65173 or going to nyc.gov/nycwell. Free, confidential support is available at any hour of the day in over 200 languages.

If you witness an overdose, call 911 immediately.

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