NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Solutions to the state’s opioid crisis have landed in the lap of The Center for Great Expectations, an outpatient drug rehab center which operates in New Brunswick and across Middlesex, Somerset and Hunterdon counties.
The center is being armed with a $786,524 grant to provide treatment services for opioid-dependent pregnant and postpartum women and older adults, NJ Gov. Chris Christie announced Tuesday afternoon.
With the NJ Department of Health’s grant, CGE will roll out a new program: Substance-use-disorder Trauma, Assessment, Referral and Treatment (START).
“We look at substance use as an adaptive behavior for past trauma,” said Carolyn Flynn, who’ll oversee the program. “Going through chronic, everyday traumas, a little bit different from post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a one-time traumatic event.”
The expectation is that CGE will work with at least 30 families during the six month lifespan of the DOH’s grant, Flynn said.
By the end of January, CGE will have vetted and hired the counselors who’ll be involved in the program. Each case gets three; an addiction-specialized clinical counselor, a licensed parent-infant mental health counselor and a case manager.
The group of three will work with the family and clients for anywhere from six to 18 months, Flynn said.
“When we get referrals, our job is going to be to do a complete assessment on that woman and her baby,” Flynn said. “So maybe that’s our outpatient program, our residential program, or another program in the community.”
CGE already offers residential and outpatient treatment, developmental daycare and supportive housing, which START counselors will counselors will help connect with clients depending on the level of need.\
Four other sites across the state received grants for the same purpose, Christie announced; $989,086 for the Capital Health System in Pennington, $1.1 million for Eva’s Village in Paterson, $635,286 for Robins Nest in Chester and $1.5 million for the Cooper Health System in Camden.
Department of Health officials intend for sites like CGE to act as a “one-stop” model of service coordination, according to Christie.
Each site would offer as many treatment services as possible, including long-term and short-term residential, halfway house, inpatient withdrawal management, ambulatory withdrawal management and intensive and standard outpatient services.
The women who participate will have access to a “support system of doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers,” as well as referrals to “obstetricians and nutritionists and services for housing, transportation, childcare and job preparation,” Christie said.
By the end of the six month period, new funding sources will have been made available to keep the START program going.
“It takes six months just to launch a program of this magnitude. There’s data collection requirements. It’s a very complex process” said Peg Wright, the center’s CEO.
“I have full confidence that Governor Phil Murphy will see the critical nature of these services and make additional funding.”