Health Department Expands Nurse Care Initiative From Harlem To Hollis

As part of HealingNYC, the Health Department announced the expansion of the Buprenorphine Nurse Care Manager Initiative, which provides buprenorphine treatment in health centers that serve people who are often uninsured or underinsured. Medications for addiction treatment, including buprenorphine, are the most effective way to treat opioid addiction and can reduce the risk of overdose and death. In the Buprenorphine Nurse Care Manager Initiative, primary care providers prescribe buprenorphine, and nurses offer additional patient care. The nurses screen and assess patients for treatment; manage medication to adjust dosing and track progress; support patient retention in care; facilitate insurance and payment issues; and refer to supportive services, such as housing and food benefits. Nearly 350 patients have received buprenorphine treatment through this initiative since its launch in April 2017 at 14 health centers. The expansion will bring the initiative to an additional 12 health centers, at which point the program will have capacity to offer buprenorphine treatment to over 5,000 patients. In 2016, approximately 13,600 New Yorkers received buprenorphine to treat their opioid addiction. HealingNYC is the City’s comprehensive initiative to save as many as 400 lives by 2022.

“In New York City, no one has to forgo lifesaving treatment for addiction. Buprenorphine is an evidence-based treatment option that can be administered by a nurse care manager and is available at an increased number of locations,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “More locations for buprenorphine treatment will mean more second chances for New Yorkers. Nurses are among the most trusted healthcare providers in our communities; with their partnership we can reach more New Yorkers and save more lives.”

“Buprenorphine is one of the most effective treatments for opioid addiction, and the Nurse Care Manager Initiative is a key part of our effort to expand access to it,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Buprenorphine can help patients get their lives back. We are working diligently to make it easier for anyone who needs help with opioid addiction to access this essential treatment.”

“This initiative to expand access to buprenorphine at community-based health centers will help more individuals get their lives back on track and prevent overdoses and death, regardless of their insurance status,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “I commend the Health Department for continuing their commitment to combat the horrific opioid crisis that has already taken far too many lives.”

“We cannot hope to turn the tide of the terrible opioid epidemic without expanding access to treatment for those who need it most,” said Congressman Eliot Engel. “I applaud the City for recognizing this and taking needed steps to serve more people living with addiction by expanding this initiative.”

“Nurses stand on the front line of the opioid epidemic. Expanding the Nurse Care Manager program at Community Health Centers around the city will save lives and help New Yorkers access appropriate, medically-assisted treatment to combat opiate addiction,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee.

“The expansion of this initiative will provide thousands of underinsured and uninsured New Yorkers suffering from an opioid addiction access to comprehensive and critical buprenorphine treatment and resources,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “I commend our City for its continued commitment to adequately combat the serious opioid crisis we are facing.”

“As Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction, I am pleased to learn the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is expanding their Nurse Care Manager Initiative throughout community health centers. Buprenorphine is an effective way to treat opioid addiction, but drug users who are uninsured or underinsured often encounter trouble accessing it. The expansion of the Nurse Care Manager Initiative will mitigate this and ensure people have more options in choosing addiction treatment,” said Council Member Diana Ayala.

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“Seeing the difference buprenorphine makes in our patients’ lives is exciting: their physical and mental health improves. Patients tell me that they feel better because they are repairing and growing relationships with friends, family and community,” said Kate Kozeniewski, RN, Buprenorphine Nurse Coordinator, Brightpoint Health.

The first 14 health centers that are part of the Buprenorphine Nurse Care Manager Initiative all have appointments available for new patients seeking buprenorphine. Here are the four uptown:

NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health

  • Sydenham Health Center (Central Harlem – Morningside Heights, Manhattan)

The newly funded health centers introducing buprenorphine treatment services for patients beginning in late 2018:

Center for Comprehensive Health Practice

  • Center for Comprehensive Health Practice (East Harlem, Manhattan)

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

  • Internal Medicine Associates (East Harlem, Manhattan)

William F. Ryan Community Health Network

  • William F. Ryan Community Health Center (Upper West Side, Manhattan)

In 2016, a total of 1,861 prescribers wrote 107,867 buprenorphine prescriptions. From 2008 to 2016, the rate of buprenorphine prescriptions filled increased by 145 percent, and the number of prescribers increased by 16 percent.

The Buprenorphine Nurse Care Manager Initiative is a key piece of the Health Department’s portfolio of programs to expand access to buprenorphine citywide. In 2016, a total of 1,861 prescribers wrote 107,867 buprenorphine prescriptions. From 2008 to 2016, the rate of buprenorphine prescriptions filled increased by 145 percent, and the number of prescribers increased by 16 percent. In order to prescribe buprenorphine, clinicians require additional training. From January 2017 to June 2018, the Health Department conducted 24 buprenorphine trainings, including ten onsite at NYC Health + Hospitals locations. As a result, over 1,000 additional clinicians across New York City are now trained to prescribe buprenorphine. Last week, the Health Department announced that buprenorphine is now available at four syringe exchange programs citywide, which together serve more than 4,200 people who use drugs each year.

Additionally, the Health Department ran its “Living Proof” public education campaign that featured New Yorkers who are treating their opioid addiction with buprenorphine or methadone medication to raise awareness about the effectiveness of treatment with medication.

In New York City, someone dies of a drug overdose every seven hours. In 2017, there were 1,441 confirmed overdose deaths; opioids were found in more than 80 percent of those deaths.

In New York City, someone dies of a drug overdose every seven hours. In 2017, there were 1,441 confirmed overdose deaths; opioids were found in more than 80 percent of those deaths. The number of drug overdoses remains at epidemic levels as illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a potent opioid, continues to be present in the drug supply. Fentanyl has been found in heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and ketamine, as well as in benzodiazepines and opioid painkillers acquired from non-pharmaceutical sources.

Treatment with buprenorphine or methadone is highly effective and can reduce the risk of overdose and death. Individuals seeking support or treatment for substance use issues for themselves or their loved ones can contact NYC Well by calling 1-888-NYC-WELL, texting “WELL” to 65173 or going to nyc.gov/nycwell. Free, confidential support is available at any hour of the day in over 200 languages.

If you witness an overdose, call 911 immediately.

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