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New York regulators pave the way for expanded detox

March 6, 2018
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Hospitals in New York state are receiving greater regulatory flexibility in order to be able to provide more detoxification services to patients, including those who have been rescued from an opioid overdose.

In a letter sent to hospital CEOs last week, state officials announced that for the remainder of the calendar year, hospitals will not have to obtain state certification to provide detox services above a threshold of five beds, or more than 10% of overall patient days. The letter suggests that this waiver from the certification requirement could be extended past this year, based on ongoing need for expanded access to services in the state's response to the opioid crisis.

“Expanded hospital-based detoxification services, in conjunction with use of certified peers and referral to an appropriate OASAS-certified treatment provider for comprehensive addiction treatment, is a model that can meet this objective and positively impact the opioid epidemic,” states the letter from the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and Office of Primary Care and Health Systems Management.

According to a news release from the advocacy organization Friends of Recovery New York, recovery advocate Sue Martin was instrumental in building momentum for this state policy initiative. Martin and other advocates last fall met with OASAS leaders, who were receptive to her suggestion that every New York hospital should be providing detox services.

Under state law, hospitals need OASAS certification to operate a discrete residential or non-residential chemical dependency unit. Hospitals' reluctance to admit patients for detox services because they do not hold this certification “is a missed opportunity that could potentially have fatal consequences,” the letter from state officials reads.

The letter also reminds hospital leaders' of existing flexibility for emergency physicians to administer daily methadone or buprenorphine treatment to patients, as a bridge to follow-up care.



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