Opioid abuse has hit the East Side hard. In 2021, six people died from overdoses of fentanyl-laced cocaine in just a few days, and multiple overdoses have occurred since then. Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital and its behavioral health services team have worked hard to curb the ongoing opioid problem and help patients with substance use disorders recover.

Now, the hospital has won a grant to open two new rehabilitation centers in Flanders as part of an outpatient drug rehabilitation programme. Suffolk County awarded $720,000 to hospitals as part of the first round of grants from funds the county received in lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies involved in the manufacture, distribution and sale of opioids.

SBELIH’s behavioral health program includes inpatient psychiatric services, as well as Quannacut, which provides inpatient detox and rehabilitation and outpatient services for patients with substance use disorders. The new recovery home will add 24 new beds for Quannacut outpatient clients, with a focus on women and members of the LGBTQ community.

“New York State has received a pretty substantial settlement, and that money is filtered through different counties,” explained Liz Day, director of outpatient services at Quannacut. Suffolk County received more than $200 million in the settlement and awarded a total of $25 million to various groups in the first round.

“Our Quannacut program is well-respected in the industry,” said Paul Connor, the hospital’s chief administrative officer, noting that the program has been around since the 1980s.

In applying for the grant, “we summarized the need for safe, secure housing for recovering people,” said Janet Jackowski, the hospital’s vice president of social and behavioral services. “Our target audience [at Quannacut] This includes women, trans people, and LGBTQ+ individuals, so we want to increase the number of beds to serve them. “

Mr. Connor added that being part of Stony Brook Medicine helped the hospital through the grant writing process.

Susan Wilner, assistant director of behavioral health services operations at Stony Brook Medicine, which has been named an LGBTQ+ health care equality leader by the Human Rights Campaign — hopes to be more inclusive with its sober living options, since the two existing hospitals house only men.

“We’re already operating very high-quality, low-key homes,” Ms Willner said. “There’s a lack of options for women, non-binary people and LGBTQ people. So we also recognize that not only do we need more beds for men, but women and LGBTQ people really don’t have a place to go.” One issue for residents, those with substance use disorders may have a harder time finding housing they can afford.

Having proper food and shelter is crucial to a person’s recovery, Ms Day said, whether from a substance use disorder or another health care issue, so being able to offer more patients a sober life would improve the quality of their care. “Our basic needs are food and shelter. If you don’t have somewhere to pick you up at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day, it’s much harder to recover,” she said.

The Recovery Home is just one part of Quannacut’s ongoing treatment offering. Many Quannacut patients also see doctors there prescribe medications such as sultanone and methadone to help them recover. “We also recommend that patients continue to receive counseling,” said Dr. Lloyd Simon, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Addiction Services at Stony Brook East Long Island Hospital. “We also encourage patients to attend 12-step sessions and make new friends who are also in recovery. Learning to enjoy yourself while you’re sober is critical.”

In addition to the Quannacut program, East Long Island Stony Brook Hospital is working with local businesses to install Narcan stations around the North Fork to prevent overdoses.

Mr Connor explained that the grant covers two rehabilitation centres, furniture, staff and patient transport. Hospitals prefer to use the term “recovery home” rather than “sober housing” to avoid prejudice against the latter. “People are recovering, this is their home and that’s what we want to emphasize,” Ms Jackowski said. “It’s a more human-centered, compassionate way of looking at things.”

While the rehab center is still being developed and staffed, Ms Day said she hopes to be serving patients by late summer.

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