WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT AND HEALTH CARE PARTNERS
Program is the ‘First of its kind’ in the nation
Participants from various state, health care and law enforcement agencies
joined Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention staff at the the Opioid
Overdose Recovery Project planning meeting for the Ocean County initiative
recently. (Back row from left to right) Joseph Coronato, Ocean County
Prosecutor; Joseph Cuffari, Director of Psychiatric Emergency Screening
Service at Community Medical Center; Connie Greene, Vice President for
the Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention; Valerie L. Mielke, MSW,
Assistant Commissioner for the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and
Addiction Services in the Department of Human Services; Rebecca Alfaro,
New Jersey Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse; Vikram
Varma, MD, Chairman of Emergency Medicine at Community Medical Center
(Front Row from left to right) Lynn Stefanowicz, Senior Manager of Behavioral
Health Services for Meridian Health and Suzanne Borys, Assistant Division
Director, Planning, Research, Evaluation and Prevention for the New Jersey
Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services in the Department of
West Orange, NJ, November 24, 2015— The Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention (IFP) will implement the Opioid
Overdose Recovery Program in Monmouth and Ocean counties working in tandem
with law enforcement and health care partners, through grant funding provided
by the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health
and Addiction Services (DMHAS).
Barnabas Health (IFP) received notification in late September that it had
been awarded the Opioid Overdose Recovery Program Grants (OORP) for both
Monmouth and Ocean counties. The OORP is a two-year pilot program designed
to provide recovery support services to individuals reversed from an opioid
overdose and treated at select hospital emergency departments in both
counties. The grant funding is being provided by DMHAS, the Governor’s
Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (GCADA) and the Department of Children
and Families (DCF).
“The goal of this program is to link individuals who were reversed
from an opioid overdose and admitted to the select emergency rooms, to
recovery support services and substance use disorder treatment,”
says Connie Greene, Vice President of the Barnabas Health Institute for
Prevention. “We will be utilizing trained and highly-experienced
Recovery Specialists who can work with reversed patients and their family
members over an extended period of time to try to get them into treatment.
The Recovery Specialists for our program have a unique qualification –
they themselves are in recovery from a substance abuse disorder,”
Barnabas Health has partnered with both CentraState Healthcare System and
Meridian Health to serve the majority of the individuals reversed from
an opioid overdose. The program will be implemented in Monmouth Medical
Center in Long Branch, CentraState Medical Center in Freehold and Jersey
Shore University Medical Center in Neptune in Monmouth County; and Community
Medical Center in Toms River and Ocean Medical Center in Brick in Ocean County.
The grant will fund staff in two key positions: Recovery Specialists and
Patient Navigators. Several Recovery Specialists will be deployed to area
hospitals upon notification of patients reversed with Naloxone, either
by law enforcement or health care workers. The Recovery Specialists will
work to engage individuals reversed from an opioid overdose and provide
non-clinical assistance and recovery support while maintaining follow-up
with these individuals for at least eight weeks.
The Recovery Specialists play a critical role in engaging reversed patients
and helping them to agree to enter a treatment program. For the Monmouth
and Ocean County program, the Recovery Specialists are individuals who
are in recovery from substance abuse disorder. This qualification is important
as it will enable them to more readily form a relationship with reversed patients.
Once the survivor agrees to enter a recovery program, the Patient Navigator
will step in to link individuals to appropriate treatment and support
services and will follow them to ensure smooth transitions between levels
of care. In addition, Recovery Specialists and the Patient Navigators
will continuously collect data in order to measure the effectiveness of the OORP.
To ensure this pilot program is able to respond to challenges and barriers
identified in the process of delivering services, including issues of
cultural competence, an Advisory Board is being developed. Membership
will consist of representation from all key partners in this project including
Emergency Department staff, County Prosecutor’s Offices (representing
first responders), detox providers, inpatient treatment providers, individuals
in recovery, family members, key community stakeholders and others as
identified by OORP staff.
“The OORP is an important step in helping individuals with substance
abuse disorders to get help and pursue sustained recovery,” said
Valerie L. Mielke, MSW, Assistant Commissioner for the New Jersey Division
of Mental Health and Addiction Services in the Department of Human Services.
“This program is the first of its kind in the nation and we are
eager to see the positive outcomes for people with addictions and their
In 2014, 394 residents received an overdose reversal in Ocean County, representing
the second highest number among all New Jersey counties, while 304 residents
received an overdose reversal in Monmouth County. Since January 2015,
there have been 13 overdose deaths and 163 Naloxone reversals in Monmouth
County while Ocean County had 72 overdose deaths and 214 Naloxone reversals.
The program in Monmouth and Ocean Counties is set to begin in early January.
Barnabas Health is the largest not-for-profit integrated health care delivery
system in New Jersey and one of the largest in the region, with more than
two million patient visits and delivery of more than 20,000 babies annually.
The system includes seven acute care hospitals, two children’s hospitals,
a trauma center, a freestanding behavioral health center, ambulatory care
centers, geriatric centers, the state’s largest behavioral health
network, comprehensive home care and hospice programs, retail pharmacy
services, a medical group, multi-site imaging centers and several accountable
care organizations. As the second-largest private employer in New Jersey,
Barnabas Health includes more than 20,000 employees and over 5,000 physicians
– or one-fifth of the actively practicing physicians in New Jersey.
For more information, visit
The Sunday Asbury Park Press, Ken Serrano
Saved by Narcan, now what?