Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Majority Leader Kara Hahn today announced the first full meeting of the newly established Emergency Department Opiate Response Working Group took place on Friday, May 3, 2019. In its inaugural meeting, the working group highlighted the need to increase peer engagement, deal with physical withdrawal symptoms, increase compassion fatigue training for the workforce, and create separate spaces for patients coming out of overdoses. The focus will be on patients that received naloxone (Narcan), and to create a recommended flowchart for the appropriate treatments in these cases.
“Our efforts to prevent tragedies and put an end to this epidemic through better outreach, more trainings, more education and smart law enforcement strategies are working, but we must do more,” said County Executive Bellone. “This new working group, spearheaded by Legislator Hahn, will ensure that all of our residents receive the care they need, and the hospitals are able to provide the best possible treatments.”
“The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis, but unlike other public health emergencies there isn’t a set of recognized medical protocols for confronting this threat,” said Legislator Kara Hahn, sponsor of legislation creating the Working Group and its Chairwoman. “That is why I sought to bring together experts who will be able to formulate a strategy comprised of best practices so that we can being to approach the opioid epidemic as the public health crisis it is and save lives.”
The group, comprised of County Health Department Officials, doctors and nurses from a number of medical institutions across the county, and non-profit organizations will develop model protocols for hospital emergency departments in the treatment of individuals presenting with opiate overdose and substance abuse issues. As part of their efforts, the group will develop recommendations for medical care units, the State of New York, and more to enhance how overdoses are handled, with the goal of ultimately saving additional lives.
The next meeting will take place in July, where members will discuss research on separate quiet spaces for overdose patients staffed by peers, and internal advocacy for patients in hospitals that transfers to external advocacy to avoid relapses. The group is working to identify individuals, such as recovering addicts, family members of addicts, and health coaches who can provide insight on firsthand experiences and how best to create positive change.
The legislation that created this working group, resolution No. 805-2018, was unanimously passed by the Suffolk County Legislature on October 5th, 2018, and was sponsored by Legislators Kara Hahn and William Spencer. The final appointment was approved at the last General Meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature on April 9th.
The working group, chaired by Legislator Kara Hahn, includes the following members:
- Legislator Sarah Anker
- AnnMarie Csorny - Director of Division of Mental Hygiene, Suffolk County Department of Health Services
- Dr. Richard Rosenthal – Stony Brook University Hospital
- Alison Rowe – Stony Brook University Hospital
- Michael Chiappone – St. Charles Hospital
- Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, MD, MS-HPPL – Northwell Health
- Jeff Reynolds – Family and Children’s Association
- Mary Silberstein - CN Guidance and Counseling Services Inc.
- Steve Chassman - LICADD
- Dr. Michael Delman - Seafield
- Jen Culp – Suffolk County Department of Health Services