by Annette Pinder
NYMATTERS is a successful program developed by UB emergency medicine physicians to expedite care for people with substance use disorder. Robert McCormack, MD, physician adviser to NYMATTERS, and chair of the UB Emergency Department of Medicine and president of UBMD Emergency Medicine, says NYMATTERS provides medication-assisted treatment to opioid use disorder patients in emergency departments and quickly gets them into long-term treatment at a community clinic of their own choosing within 24-48 hours. Before NYMATTERS, opioid use disorder patients were often discharged from emergency care with a list of phone numbers for clinics that were either overwhelmed for appointments or inactive.
Joshua Lynch, DO, clinical associate professor at UB’s Department of Emergency Medicine, and a physician with UBMD Emergency Medicine, established the program, which expedites care for those affected throughout all WNY hospitals. He also implemented an aggressive effort to train ER physicians and advanced practice providers in responsible opioid prescribing; prescribing buprenorphine (which controls withdrawal symptoms); and in making rapid referrals for community treatment. With hundreds of weekly appointment slots available, most patients can be seen within 1 to 2 days at a location close to their home regardless of past drug use, insurance status, or their current substance use behavior.
NYMATTERS partners with more than 100 community-based clinics, 1,000 pharmacies, and more than 40 hospitals throughout the state. Patients can receive a medication voucher, which covers the cost of a buprenorphine prescription for up to 14 days redeemable at hundreds of public and privately owned pharmacies including all CVS, Walgreens, and Wegmans locations. Referrals are completed online between the patient and provider in 3-5 minutes. Patients also receive transportation vouchers to cover the round-trip ride for their first clinic appointment and a referral to a local peer support organization.
NYMATTERS is so successful that Departments of Health in other states are consulting with Dr. Lynch to develop similar programs. Dr. McCormack is also discussing the development of virtual emergency departments staffed by UBMD emergency medicine physicians in Kaleida Health hospitals and Erie County Medical Center to make it possible for patients to receive a buprenorphine prescription and NYMATTERS referral without having to appear in person at an ER.
Fortunately, many clinic partners offer virtual appointments, syringe-exchange programs, and treatment for HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. However, NYMATTERS is an integral resource that connects patients with outpatient programs that can best meet their needs while not overwhelming already challenged hospital emergency departments. In fact, the program is already helping substance use disorder patients in 20 percent New York state hospitals.
Funding for NYMATTERS comes from private foundations and government agencies, including the NYS Department of Health, the NYS Office of Addiction Services and Supports, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and others. Learn more at https://mattersnetwork.org.