New Jersey hospital leads the fight against the opioid epidemic through alternative program

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- As the United States continues to combat the opioid epidemic, St. Joseph's University Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey, has become a leader in this battle through their Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) program.

Initially, the ALTO program launched in January 2016 and focused on the use of non-opioid medication to treat acute and chronic pain and opioid addiction in the emergency department.

But after its launch, ALTO has gained national attention and has evolved into a three-step program which targets opioid addiction through prevention, treatment and harm reduction.

"The ALTO program was actually signed into law, The ALTO Act, by President Trump last October. So now our little hospital program is a federal legislation part of H.R. 6, and we're seeing this in states like Colorado, Washington state, and Connecticut," said Dr. Mark Rosenberg Chairman of Emergency Medicine at St Joseph's Health.

"New Jersey is starting an ALTO program so that every hospital in the state learns ALTO protocol and is able to more aggressively manage pain without the reliance on opioids," said Rosenberg.

Additionally, the ALTO program works closely with community partners and organizations such as Eva's Village, who take in opioid addicted patients from the emergency department to enroll them into a detox program.

"The results of the program have been fantastic. Not only are the nurses, physicians, patients and social workers just thrilled, but finally the community can finally see that there is something that we can do in collaboration," said Dr. Alexis LaPietra Emergency Department physician.

If interested in receiving education on rescue breathing, opioid overdose and to get a free naloxone kit you can call the St. Joseph's Health hotline at (973) 754-3000. The training's will take place at St. Joseph's Health in Paterson, New Jersey and their sister hospital St. Joseph's Wayne Medical Center.

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