Middlesex County outreach program aims to help those with opiate-use disorders
Rutgers University Behavioral Healthcare has launched the Middlesex Outreach for Recovery and Education , a street-level program that provides Middlesex County adults with an array of sources, training on opioid overdose prevention, risk reduction, homeless care packages and more.
MORE is a community-based mobile outreach intervention program designed to target those diagnosed with opiate-use disorders in the county, said Mary-Catherine Bohan, vice president of Outpatient and Ambulatory Services at RUBHC.
The need for the program is because, unfortunately, there is a high degree of individuals in Middlesex County who are experiencing opiate use disorder, Bohan said.
In Middlesex County, in 2020, she said there were over 130 suspected overdose deaths and over 600 individuals resuscitated with Narcan or Naloxone.
Bohan also said that The New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services Substance Use Monitoring System also reported that heroin addiction represented 42% of admissions to the treatment of Middlesex County residents in 2018.
She said the program offers non-facility-based interventions aimed at engaging individuals who have been unwilling, for whatever reason to access supports from traditional services and providers.
Some of those services include mental health and substance use disorder assessments by a masters-prepared clinician, linkage, referrals and warm hand-offs to behavioral health and substance use disorder services including medication-assisted treatment.
Staff will also distribute risk-reduction kits which would include fentanyl test strips and Narcan kits and homeless outreach care packs.
Bohan said other services will be immediate information about opiate use disorder, linkage and referral to social services, housing/shelter, legal and other social supports, as well as information inducing HIV/STD prevention.
It is anticipated that the clientele will represent individuals who are temporarily homeless. They historically have difficulty accessing traditional office space services, Bohan said.
So, the program has launched the MORE Mobile Recovery Unit, a brand new van, which allows staff to meet clients wherever they may be--whether that's homes, parks, trailer parks, soup kitchens, food pantries, places of worship or even abandoned buildings.
The mobile van is staffed by behavioral health professionals providing street-level outreach and links to Middlesex County continuum care. It's outfitted with Wi-Fi, scanners, and printers on board so staff can make referrals for individuals to services in real time.
People can come inside, warm up or cool off, depending on the circumstances. A nurse can do some health assessments. There's also a refrigerator stored with medication such as Narcan and fentanyl-test strips. It's also outfitted with things individuals things need right now such as masks, hand sanitizers, blankets, warm clothing, water, food, hygiene supplies, body warmers and more.
She said the staff is so excited to be able to provide these life-saving services to individuals through this innovative program.
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