U.S. Senator Cory Booker, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. joined together for a press conference at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in April to address new legislation – The Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO®) in the Emergency Department Act – a bill that calls for setting national protocols for hospitals across the country in the fight against the opioid epidemic. The bill is based on our highly successful ALTO® program – implemented at St. Joseph’s in 2016.
“More often than not, it’s people in pain getting hooked on painkillers in their own medicine cabinets, prescribed by their own doctors that lead to addiction — Percocet, OxyContin, Vicodin and others. Four out of five new heroin users started out initially misusing pain pills,” said Senator Bob Menendez.
“St. Joseph’s is providing emergency rooms across the country with a blueprint for preventing countless overdoses from happening in the first place,” added Congressman Bill Pascrell.
The Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO®) program uses targeted non-opioid medications, trigger point injections, nitrous oxide, and ultrasound guided nerve blocks to tailor its patients’ pain management needs and avoid opioids whenever possible, for example, in cases of kidney stones, acute low back pain, broken bones, acute headache and migraine pain.
“Thousands of New Jersey patients and families have benefited from our Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO®) program since it launched in January 2016,” said Kevin J. Slavin, President and CEO, St. Joseph’s Health. “St. Joseph’s is proud to lead the way in providing a tangible solution to address the opioid epidemic here in New Jersey – and now across the country with this proposed legislation.”
The ALTO® program has gained interest from other hospitals and healthcare systems across the United States and the world, including Turkey, Israel and Switzerland, who are interested in replicating the model program.
“The opioid crisis in our country is staggering and epic in its evil. As a result, we are seeing families and communities destroyed,” said Senator Cory Booker. “Right here in New Jersey, we know that the opioid epidemic does not discriminate against Democrats or Republicans, or suburban or urban areas. The work being done here at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center is innovative, it is inspiring, and it is a shining light against the darkness.”
“We launched ALTO two years ago to offer a real solution to a rapidly growing opioid epidemic,” said Mark Rosenberg, DO, Chairman of Emergency Medicine and Chief Innovation Officer, St. Joseph’s Health. “Since then, we have witnessed tremendous success using the ALTO protocols. I’m very proud to report that we have reduced opioid prescriptions by 82 percent here in the St. Joseph’s Emergency Department. We are stopping addiction before it starts.”