Your Donation At Work: More Comprehensive System of Recovery Support Underway

Zufall Health is preparing to transform care for patients with substance use disorders (SUDs), thanks to the New Jersey Safety Net Innovation Program (NJ SNIP), a new initiative funded by the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation and implemented by the Camden Coalition.

The $300,000, two-year NJ SNIP grant will allow Zufall to significantly expand its delivery of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) and wraparound recovery support services. MAT is an evidence-based approach to SUDs, particularly opioid and alcohol use disorders, that combines medication with counseling and behavioral support.

Accessing MAT in Zufall’s service areas is challenging, with few certified addiction medicine physicians, and even fewer willing to accept Medicaid recipients or uninsured patients. President and CEO Fran Palm noted that while some Zufall medical providers have gradually adopted MAT and seen positive outcomes, the opioid epidemic’s current landscape and community concerns have highlighted the need for a more substantial response.

“Although we’ve cared for many patients who need MAT, we have not had the infrastructure to sustain the coordinated care that is required for comprehensive, ongoing treatment. With open-ended, flexible funding, the NJ SNIP grant provided a critical opportunity to integrate a full-fledged MAT program into Zufall’s whole-person, trauma-informed framework,” Palm said.

The program involves existing primary care providers and behavioral health case managers, along with two newly created positions – a Recovery Support Services Coordinator and a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. Additionally, there will be increased support from an external consultant. In the first two years, the health center aims to serve 225 patients through the expanded MAT program, a more than 50 percent increase, while enhancing the level of patient support.

SVP of Behavioral Health Services Sarah Aleman, MSW, LSCW, one of the MAT program’s supervisors, is enthusiastic about the progress ahead.

“Treatment for SUDs has long been siloed and stigmatized. By increasing opportunities for patients to discuss these conditions in a primary care setting, the expectation is not only to improve and save more lives but to also shift the perception of SUDs from moral failings to treatable, chronic diseases.”