Paterson launches Opioid Response Teams to steer users to treatment

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

Paterson is looking to use funds from a $150,000 state grant and a separate federal grant to establish Opioid Response Teams, comprised of an EMS specialist, a recovery coach and a police officer, that will respond to overdose calls.

With the announcement, Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh hopes the 24/7 team will make a major dent in Passaic County’s opioid crisis.

The program also looks to create synergy and align efforts with city partners, in what Sayegh suggests may have been considered “a city of silos” in the past.

One of those partners, Eva’s Village, a recovery program that treats about 900 men and women a year, will provide recovery coaches to the program, while police, fire, rescue and St. Joseph’s Hospital will also lend their services.

Currently, Paterson accounts for half of Passaic County’s heroin and opioid treatment admissions, although compared to this time last year, Paterson has half the reported overdose deaths.

“I think it’s a terrific initiative,” said Heather Thompson, executive vice president of development and external relationship at Eva’s Village. “We know that we need more street-level engagement. We know that we need to reach people before they go to the ER.”

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal says opioid response teams are part of his office’s three-prong approach: prevention, treatment and enforcement.