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Atlantic Behavioral Health Opioid Reduction and Education Program Selected as “Innovative Program”

May 10, 2019

Recognized by the Morris County Chamber of Commerce at 2019 Not-for-Profit Excellence Awards

Morristown, NJ – Atlantic Health System’s Atlantic Behavioral Health was recognized as an Innovative Program by the Morris County Chamber of Commerce at its 2019 Not-for-Profit Excellence Awards. The awards program recognizes programs that provide information, education and new strategies that leaders in the nonprofit community can integrate to propel their organizations forward.

Atlantic Behavioral Health has developed a comprehensive program designed to reduce the number of opioid-related deaths and overdoses in collaboration with community groups, provide support and counseling resources, and educate physicians on safe opioid prescribing.

“Atlantic Behavioral Health is working to lead the change in the way we’re talking about, treating, and prescribing opioids,” said Lori Ann Rizzuto, Executive Director, Atlantic Behavioral Health. “We’re partnering with community groups, talking to patients, and creating our own internal best practices that will ultimately help those in our community struggling with addition without the fear of stigma.”


In June 2017, Morristown Medical Center hosted then-Governor Chris Christie for a “Do No Harm” symposium that allowed leaders and stakeholders from the medical community and law enforcement to come together to discuss solutions for opioid abuse in our state. The standing-room only, candid forum allowed prescribers to interact with law enforcement and the Department of Health to better understand the benefits and challenges of the prescribing system/law, and discuss potential solutions in real-time. A Do No Harm event was presented at each Atlantic Health System campus in 2017 and 2018.

The health system hosted community Narcan trainings at each campus in partnership with Morris County Prevention agencies and participated in Knock Out Opiate Day—a prescriber education event in collaboration with Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey—which highlighted statistics and “red flags” to look for when prescribing to patients who may be drug-seekers.

Medical Intervention

Atlantic Health System believes that if a patient suffers an overdose, they may be more willing to accept help and discontinue using. But before help can be offered, they need to stay alive.

Traditionally, first responders brought suspected overdose patients to an emergency room, where they were often administered Narcan, an opioid-reversal agent. Realizing that if these patients could be treated onsite when they were found rather than waiting to get to an emergency room, Atlantic Health System in 2015 was one of the first hospitals in the state to donate Narcan and Narcan/opioid training to local police and EMS departments. Equipping first responders saved valuable minutes and increased the person’s chance of survival.

Other hospitals across the state quickly followed suit, and in 2018, there were over 79 Narcan administrations in Morris County, according to Morris County Prevention is Key.

Recovery Support

Often, people saved with Narcan left the hospital and returned to drug use, with negative or fatal consequences.

Identifying the critical opportunity for recovery teams to interact with those who survived their near-death experience, Atlantic Health System partnered with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office on the “Narcan 2.0 program,” aimed at giving another chance at life to persons who have had recent near-fatal encounters with drug overdoses.

After life-saving Narcan is administered and the individual is brought to an emergency department, they are met by a peer recovery specialist who will talk to them and offer the person is approached by recovery specialists, some of them recovering opioid users (peer-to-peer), to talk about the situation and offer resources, interventions, treatment, and support in real-time, which can break the cycle of addiction.

Social Intervention

Noting the higher-than-normal rate of mental health and substance abuse issues in veterans, Atlantic Health System developed the True North initiative, which links veterans and their families to therapy, resources, and support.

Continued Dialogue

Atlantic Health System is committed to fostering ongoing discussion in Morris County about challenges and best practices to decrease the number of people who use and die from opioids.

To help continue the conversation, Atlantic Health System was one of the initial stakeholders in the Morris County Stigma Free Committee, which aims to create a non-judgmental environment where individuals with mental illness and addictions feel supported by their community and neighbors, encourage people to seek treatment for these illnesses without fear of stigma.

Learn more about Atlantic Behavioral Health >

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area. Powered by a workforce of more than 16,800 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System serves more than half of the state of New Jersey including 11 counties and 4.9 million people. The system offers more than 400 sites of care, including six hospitals in New Jersey: Morristown Medical Center and Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, Overlook Medical Center in Summit, Newton Medical Center in Newton, Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, and Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown.

In addition to the employed workforce, Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network represents more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central New Jersey. This network includes 1,000 physicians and providers comprising one of the largest multi-specialty practices in New Jersey - Atlantic Medical Group, as well as members of the Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners which work to enhance patient care delivery.

Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health care needs including 12 urgent care centers, Atlantic Rehabilitation and Atlantic Home Care and Hospice. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.

Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of seven regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability and is a founding member of the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system that will expand access to groundbreaking research across seven health systems in New Jersey.

Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University and is home to the regional campus of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers and is the official health care partner of the New York Jets.