The NYC Test & Trace Corps announced on February 9 the launch of a Buprenorphine Treatment Pathway to connect New Yorkers struggling with opioid use disorder to treatment with buprenorphine through NYC Health + Hospitals’ Virtual Buprenorphine Clinic.
The initiative, acccording to an annnouncent by NYC Health + Hospitals, will expand drug treatment options offered by the Street Health Outreach + Wellness program to provide comprehensive care for patients with opioid use disorder.
A a bipartisan congressional commission recently found that an escalating overdose epidemic poses an unacceptable threat to national security. About a million Americans have died from drug overdoses since 1999, with around 100,000 deaths in the past year.
The report by the Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking calls for a major shift in policy to combat rising fatal overdoses, with much greater focus on reducing demand through public health measures and better treatment options.
“As a primary care doctor, I care deeply about my patients. Every time I prescribe buprenorphine to one of my patients with opioid use disorder, I know that in that moment I have had the opportunity to help them with a permanent recovery, and may have saved their life,” a press release quoted Dr. Ted Long, Executive Director of the NYC Test & Trace Corps and Senior Vice President of Ambulatory Care and Population Health at NYC Health + Hospitals, as saying.
NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest public health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs.
“The Buprenorphine Treatment Pathway is a critical addition to the Street Health Outreach and Wellness program, ensuring all New Yorkers can get the comprehensive care they need including for opioid use disorder, wherever they are, without exception.”
“Our SHOW teams’ ability to connect patients to buprenorphine treatment will bring life-saving, life-changing medication to New Yorkers living with and seeking treatment for opioid use disorder who have faced challenges accessing other options,” said Dr. Amanda K. Johnson, Director of Take Care at the NYC Test & Trace Corps and Assistant Vice President of Ambulatory Care and Population Health at NYC Health + Hospitals.
“We endeavor to provide a doorway to the public healthcare system for all New Yorkers. A clear, accessible referral pathway can help many more who are seeking treatment.”
“As a therapist, a public servant, and someone in recovery from opioid addiction, I am proud to be a part of this life-saving care,” said Dr. Rebecca Linn-Walton, Sr. Assistant Vice President in the Office of Behavioral Health at NYC Health + Hospitals. “This life-saving treatment needs to be truly accessible to all New Yorkers. This is our chance to help someone change their trajectory. We hope that this is the first step toward healing and stability for some of New York’s most vulnerable residents.”
The Buprenorphine Treatment Pathway builds upon the success of the Street Health Outreach + Wellness (SHOW) program, a mobile urgent care initiative that bridges gaps in access to care for the city’s most vulnerable and has engaged over 100,000 unique patients on the streets of New York City. SHOW’s dedicated teams of nurses, advanced practice providers, EMTs and social workers provide a range of medical treatments and social services focused on New Yorkers experiencing homelessness, including COVID testing, vaccinations, physical and mental health screenings, and harm reduction services.
Providing buprenorphine in the community offers additional care for people living with opioid use disorder, which includes substances such as heroin, fentanyl and oxycodone. SHOW teams can now make referrals to the Virtual Buprenorphine Clinic (VBC) at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, a virtual buprenorphine assessment and prescription program.
The VBC provides virtual/telephone appointments for assessment with an x-waivered medical provider, works in partnership with local pharmacies across NYC to help facilitate multi-week prescriptions for buprenorphine, and provides referrals to substance treatment programs for ongoing treatment, extending the Clinic’s impact within the community. SHOW teams will be able to provide New Yorkers assessments in the field, hand out information about buprenorphine assisted-treatment, and connect them to the VBC.
The Buprenorphine Treatment Pathway is designed to meet New Yorkers when and where they are, opening a door to drug treatment options conversation by conversation. Regardless of whether someone is interested in or meet criteria for the VBC, SHOW teams still offer other harm reduction services, including Narcan, fentanyl test strips, and connection with Safe Syringe Providers, such as New York Harm Reduction Educators (NYHRE), for clean needles and safe injection.
“The need for innovative approaches to treat chronic drug use here in NYC has never been greater,” said Stan Vashovsky, CEO of DocGo.“We are hopeful this new Buprenorphine Treatment Pathway will reach individuals with the greatest need, provide the resources they need to overcome substance use challenges, and help save lives. We’re proud of our teams on the ground leading this vital initiative, and look forward to developing additional programs with NYC H+H to help improve access to care for all.”
SHOW mobile units are deployed to high-need areas in New York City Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM. For the most up-to-date information about mobile site locations and scheduling, please visit the Street Health Outreach & Wellness Mobile Units website.