Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory joined officials from Northwell Health and Central Nassau Guidance & Counseling Services at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore to announce Project CONNECT; a collaboration that will expand Northwell Health’s robust Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) protocols to individuals who have overdosed and are treated in the Emergency Departments of Southside and Huntington hospitals.
Presiding Officer Gregory, who also was joined by Suffolk County Legislators Sarah Anker, Susan Berland, Thomas Cilmi, and Steven Flotteron, said, “I am gratified to have been part of securing the funding needed to provide this type of assistance to those who are dealing with substance abuse. The more resources that are available and the ability of health officials to reach people in need of assistance will hopefully offer a second change to those who are struggling with drug addiction. We need to assist these individuals while they are in crisis and help them with whatever services are needed to move them in the right direction.”
Project Connect, which was created by CN Guidance with a grant from Presiding Officer Gregory, will be activated if a patient, brought to the Emergency Department after a NARCAN save is ready and willing to accept support and follow-up. SBIRT will handle all the real-time heavy lifting then hand-off patients to CONNECT colleagues from CN Guidance who will provide information and resources beyond the four walls of the hospitals. Northwell has no financial relationship with CN Guidance or Suffolk County and they receive no funding.
“This new initiative will save lives by filling a critical gap in our existing system,” said Jeffrey Friedman, Chief Executive Officer of CN Guidance, “The havoc connected to untreated opiate addiction on Long Island has been slicing through our families and communities. These new support services are enabling opiate-addicted individuals—and their families—to receive the help they need immediately, with no lag in connection to the treatment and recovery services. Compared to the status quo, in which many people seen in an emergency room for an overdose leave and then die of another overdose within a few weeks or months, the addition and support of this new initiative will give each person who overdosed a sincere chance to connect to needed treatment—and to remain supported until recovery is firmly entrenched.”
According to Mary Siberstein, Division Director, Integrated Counseling & Recovery Services, CN Guidance & Counseling Services, Project CONNECT develops a plan of action for treatment and provides necessary referrals and appointments for the patient in collaboration with SBIRT protocols. In addition, Project CONNECT staff continues to outreach with the patient once they leave the hospital and meets with them at a treatment program if required. This continues by phone or in-person for up to 120 days. Support and referrals are also available for family members.
Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, Director, SBIRT, Northwell Health, said, “There is no stand-alone solution to resolve the impact the current opioid crisis has created in our communities, however, we need to continue to align ourselves within Northwell Health and with partners in the community to stand up viable options for streamlined pathways to care,” said Sandeep Kapoor, MD, director of Northwell’s SBIRT program. “Huntington and Southside Emergency Department teams will now have the ability to add continuity to the care provided to patients as Project Connect advocates, navigates, and supports their journey towards treatment and recovery. We are proud to announce our collaboration with Project Connect and look forward to enhancing our services in support of our patients and their families beyond our clinical settings.”