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New Partnership Hopes To Help Tackle Opioid Crisis In Nassau County

FREEPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - There's a new idea in the fight against opioids on Long Island.

Tuesday the Nassau district attorney launched the first of its kind partnership to send drug overdose patients directly from hospital emergency rooms to treatment.

As the lyrics in the song go, "I see the needle and the damage done."

That damage can be seen at Maryhaven New Hope Crisis Center in Freeport, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported. Up to 30 drug addicted patients are in residential, locked treatment.

One heroin user staying there told Gusoff what it's like to be turned away by a hospital after an overdose.

"They made me sit there five, six hours and I left, went right to work," he said. "I went right back to drugs."

As of now, the odds of recovery increase. Overdose patients at two of Long Island's biggest hospitals may be brought to New Hope for addiction treatment directly from emergency rooms. It's a life-saving partnership and the first of its kind in New York.

Nassau County DA Madeline Singas hopes it will close what she calls a deadly treatment gap in the critical hours after an overdose.

"Wouldn't it make sense for us if we could strike while the iron is hot, get that person into treatment right away," Singas said.

"The hospitals were not able to admit a person who still had drugs in their system," said Lewis Grossman of Maryhaven Center of Hope. "New hope is able to go into the emergency room when a person is susceptible to accepting treatment."

New Hope counselors will be on call to respond to overdoses at Northwell Health and Nassau University Medical Center.

"Children have been Narcaned back to life. We tell the parents to pick them up and take them home. It has not worked," said George Tsunis of Nassau University Medical Center.

The pain of withdrawal all but guarantees relapse.

"You want to stop, but when you get sick it's almost impossible," an addict told Gusoff.

Officials call the new program a warm hand off and a rare private-public partnership in the normally fractured suburbs.

"This is an opportunity where you get the big ones come together to solve our most pressing problems," said Laurence Levy of Hofstra University.

The program is free for patients.

The irony of all this is the treatment is paid for with money collected, essentially, from drug dealers, Gusoff reported. Drug asset forfeiture - the money the DA collects in criminal cases - supplies the funds.

Funding of $500,000 from the DA's office has already treated 2,200 drug addicted patients since 2015.

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