Conemaugh is fighting back against the Opioid Crisis with a new program


JOHNSTOWN, CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ Plus) — Conemaugh Health Systems is offering a Medication Assisted Treatment or M.A.T. program, for patients with Opioid Use Disorder.

This is in response to the opioid crisis that Cambria and Somerset Counties are facing.

The purpose of the medication is to bridge the time where a patient is going through withdrawal, helping to subdue the addiction until they are able to be put into a long-term rehab center.

The program started earlier this year and Chair for the Department of Medicine with Conemaugh, Jennifer Savino, says they wanted to give patients more opportunities to quit.

“If somebody decided they want to quit using heroin or pain pills and its Friday night at three in the morning and there’s no P.C.P.’s open, there are no rehab centers that you can go to, we’re here..24/7.”

Savino says the process is simple, but it’s important that someone is in withdrawal when receiving the Suboxone, otherwise, it could make symptoms much worse.

“We would give them their first dose of Suboxone, we’d have them connected with our Center of Excellence who would get them into a Suboxone clinic.”

Conemaugh Director of Emergency Medicine, Andrew Gaunt, says the Centers of Excellence are there to find rehab places for the patients.

“They will actually dispatch a case manager to come to the emergency department to provide that warm hand-off directly with that patient to assure that they get them into the recovery program that best suits their needs.”

In 2016, 94 people died from overdosing in Cambria County, and so far this year, that number has dropped to 39.

Gaunt says this program is trying to lower that number even further.

“What we really need to do is to encourage patients who are struggling with the addiction to seek help and we are available for that 24/7.”

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