The New Jersey Reentry Corp. (NJRC) announced at a news conference on Thursday it will join forces with Care Plus NJ Inc., a provider of integrated primary and behavioral health services for adults and children, in a partnership to give NJRC clients access to addiction treatment services.
The memorandum of understanding signed at Care Plus’s facility in Paramus will allow the NJRC to refer clients immediately and directly to CarePlus’ program.
The agreement will enable clients to access to Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT) such as suboxone, vivitrol, and methadone that will enable clients to control cravings for opioid use, and thus reduce risk of overdosing.
NJRC is a nonprofit agency with a social mission to remove all barriers to employment for citizens returning from jail or prison.
CarePlus operates as one of New Jersey’s designated Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers (CCBHCs), which are certified by the national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as best practice providers.
Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, and executive director of NJRC, told NJBIZ that individuals coming out of prisons and county jails are the most susceptible to opioid overdose deaths.
“Our clients are 129 times more likely to die of an opioid overdose within the first two weeks of prison release than the average American,” said McGreevey.
“When someone goes into prison they may have been doing five to ten bags of dope a day,” said McGreevy. “But now when they come out the dope is so much more powerful because it is synthetic opioid fentanyl as opposed to heroin. Their cravings are so much higher, but over the course of their time in prison, their resistance has gone way down. It’s the worst of all circumstances.”
“What we have done today with Care Plus is to guarantee that when someone walks through door of NJ Reentry we will link them to Care Plus within 24 to 48 hours so that they will have access to medication-assisted treatment to control the cravings so they won’t go to the corner to run and gun and dope and engage in heroin overdose.”
Joseph Masciandaro, president and chief executive officer of Care Plus, told NJBIZ that the partnership would provide prompt access to drug and drug-assisted treatment for people who need it most.
“It’s an epidemic and we need to have different tools to fight this epidemic and this is a really good model,” Masciandaro said.
“We in the Murphy administration are completely committed to creating all avenues to medication-assisted treatment for people with opioid addiction,” Carole Johnson, commissioner, New Jersey Department of Human Services, told NJBIZ.
“One of the most vulnerable populations are people reentering from justice-involved situations so being able to ensure that there is a seamless way for them to connect to care is just a huge win and we need to encourage these types of partnerships,” said Johnson.
Dr. Aakash Shah, medical director at NJ Reentry, told NJBIZ that the initiative announced today is an attempt to assure the systems align. “You don’t have to wait for the stars to align if the systems already do.”
Shah said that he would like to see more of these types of partnerships.
“The opioid epidemic is the defining public health challenge of our time and in order to turn the tide on the epidemic we absolutely need to partner everywhere and in any- way that we can.”