Nassau County DA Singas Announce New Partnership in Fight against Heroin Crisis

April 19, 2019

MINEOLA, NY – Nassau County District Attorney (NCDA) Madeline Singas announced on April 16 a groundbreaking partnership between the NCDA, Northwell Health, Nassau University Medical Center and Maryhaven’s New Hope Crisis Center to further close the deadly treatment gap by providing overdose patients with immediate transportation and admission into residential treatment from the emergency room.

“Since my office provided funding to expand New Hope’s services and admission hours in 2015, more than 2,200 people have been helped. They had a safe and supportive place to go through withdrawal and to be directed to the next phase of treatment. Now there will be no delay between the hospital and help,” DA Singas said. “Thanks to the collaboration between New Hope, Northwell Health and NuHealth, a person in crisis in an emergency room will not just be stabilized, released, and referred for future treatment – that person will meet a counselor in the emergency department and be transported directly to New Hope. Treatment and hope for the future will start immediately.”

As part of the NCDA’s three-pronged strategy against the heroin crisis, that includes enforcement, education, and treatment, DA Singas has negotiated a unique and innovative medically approved treatment program.

Yesterday, staff from Maryhaven’s New Hope Stabilization/Crisis Center – a member of Catholic Health Services of Long Island – began a pilot program with Northwell Health and Nassau University Medical Center. New Hope staff members are on call to respond directly to the hospital emergency rooms to work with the hospital staff to counsel the patient and immediately transport the patient to New Hope to begin treatment. The patient will be assessed to determine the next phase of treatment. The New Hope staff will assist the patient with any necessary insurance, Medicare or Medicaid paperwork. The patient will remain at New Hope until there is availability in the next program and the average length of stay is 7 to 10 days.

Typically, users who overdose and are revived are stabilized and released from the emergency department because withdrawal is not considered medically “life-threatening.” The person in crisis is released back into the community while experiencing withdrawal. If the patient is released to a family member, the family member is frequently unequipped to handle the challenges of a person painfully withdrawing from drugs.

This treatment gap leaves many patients on their own during the most violent, painful and difficult throes of withdrawal, often leading to repeat use that can continue uninterrupted until death. This cycle can also lead to crimes often associated with the need for money to support opiate abuse, like robbery and burglary.

Nassau University Medical Center has further committed to the efforts to fight this continuing epidemic by making 20 more beds available for detoxing patients, by working with Nassau County and Sheriff Vera Fludd to bring a re-entry Vivitrol program to the Nassau County Correctional Facility and by expediting a program to make medically assisted treatment inductions available through the emergency department.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said, “The groundbreaking partnership we’re announcing today represents a major step towards closing the addiction treatment gap in Nassau County. We know that we can’t arrest our way out of the opioid crisis. District Attorney Singas’ three-pronged strategy of enforcement, education, and treatment has already shown positive results, and today’s announcement will help us continue that progress in Nassau County.”

“Addiction is a very complex and painful condition that continues to overwhelm families in our local communities, as well as law enforcement and medical professionals who are tasked with providing answers,” said Northwell Health President, and CEO Michael J. Dowling. “That’s why this partnership with New Hope is so critical, especially during a public health crisis like the opioid epidemic. New Hope will serve as a bridge to treatment for patients in our emergency departments who are struggling with addiction. It’s an important step in our ongoing commitment to alter the course of this crisis.”

“Throughout Long Island, the scourge of drug addiction has taken far too many young lives. Nassau County’s neighborhoods — regardless of socioeconomic status — are the front lines in the fight against addiction and overdoses. Nassau University Medical Center is proud to announce the opening of three new programs to curb the advance of addiction and drug use by providing resources for those who need treatment in their own personal battles against addiction. We are proud to partner again with New Hope and Northwell Health, to do all in our power to stop the advance of addiction at its source. We are grateful for District Attorney Singas’ leadership on this most important fight,” said George Tsunis, Chairman, Nassau Health Care Corp.

“We are excited about this partnership which has the potential to save lives,” said Lewis Grossman, president and CEO of Maryhaven Center of Hope which runs New Hope, Nassau County’s only 24/7 stabilization residential center. “We are closing the treatment gap between an overdose, stabilization at an emergency department and discharge from a hospital. New Hope offers medically-assisted treatment in a safe space and assists patients in securing long-term treatment.”

Since 2015, when District Attorney Singas announced that her office committed $585,000 in criminal asset forfeiture funding to expand New Hope’s services, 2,212 individuals have benefitted from treatment through 2018.

The DA’s funding allowed New Hope to expand admissions to 24/7 coverage. It also allowed New Hope to hire a nurse practitioner and psychiatrist to allow admission to patients with underlying health issues and to provide medically assisted treatment.

In 2018, according to the Nassau County Medical Examiner, 123 individuals died of an opioid-related overdose in Nassau County. Currently, the Medical Examiner has 72 cases that are pending cause of death determination, and those cases may or may not be opioid overdose-related.

In 2017, 184 individuals died of an overdose in Nassau County.

DA Singas, who is co-chair of the Nassau County Heroin Prevention Task Force and whose office is part of the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, also continues to sponsor the “Not My Child” series of anti-heroin presentations in local that has been presented to tens of thousands of students in Nassau County.

More information on New Hope and other Long Island treatment programs is available online: heroinprevention.com.


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