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Long Island Community Hospital improves ED buprenorphine access

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, addiction services and treatment remain at risk as funding, staff and resources are diverted to deal with the public health emergency. In 2018, Suffolk County, New York had 373 fatal overdoses according to the Suffolk County Police Department. That same year, Long Island Community Hospital had 571 patients present to the emergency department with a diagnosis of opiate overdose. Of the 65,000 patients treated at the hospital’s ED each year, at least 25% of those are affected by opioid use disorder. To more effectively manage this crisis, Long Island Community Hospital began increasing access to buprenorphine in the ED in 2019.

When patients enter the ED, they can present with a variety of symptoms directly and indirectly related to opioid misuse and abuse. In alignment with the New York state Prevention Agenda priority area of preventing substance abuse, Long Island Community Hospital is strongly committed to identifying, assessing, treating and referring patients to the appropriate level of care. Providing the community with education about Narcan administration has been an important part of this community awareness program.

Long Island Community Hospital actively participates in the Suffolk County Medication Assisted Treatment Committee, a subcommittee of the Suffolk County Division of Community Mental Hygiene Community Service Board. This group has identified a list of providers who are able to accept next-day referrals from emergency departments. The hospital implemented the buprenorphine protocol in the ED daily workflow in alignment with its screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment process.

Nine patients were treated with buprenorphine in the ED since June 2019. The hospital provided 189 certified recovery peer service visits (October to December 2019). A total of 242 Narcan kits were distributed to patients at risk and their families in 2019.

Long Island Community Hospital plans to continue ongoing education about evidence-based care for treatment of this population to the medical staff, residents and nursing staff. The hospital plans to offer community-based education about prevention and treatment of substance abuse disorder, including Narcan administration for overdoses.

For more information, contact Karen Shaughness, LCSW, ACSW, BCD, senior director, ambulatory services, at kshaughness@licommunityhospital.org or (631) 654-7792.