Emergency Department's Project ASSERT celebrates 13 years

Celebrating 13 years of Project ASSERT was a festive affair in the Adult ED. Shown (l-r) are: Gregory Johnson, Damaris Navarro, Alexei Nelayev, Ralph Soldano and Dr. D'Onofrio. Vanessa Brown was unavailable for the photo.
Celebrating 13 years of Project ASSERT was a festive affair in the Adult ED. Shown (l-r) are: Gregory Johnson, Damaris Navarro, Alexei Nelayev, Ralph Soldano and Dr. D'Onofrio. Vanessa Brown was unavailable for the photo.

Project ASSERT, a screening, intervention and referral program for patients with unhealthy alcohol or other drug use recently celebrated its 13th year. The program, active in the emergency departments on both the York Street and Chapel Street campuses, directly links patients with dependence to substance abuse treatment programs, primary care and social agencies.

Since 2001, Project ASSERT's health promotion advocates (HPAs) on the York Street Campus have screened almost 40,000 patients, performed 11,000 interventions, referred 7,000 patients to substance abuse programs and provided more than 6,000 patients with social or medical referrals.

"Project ASSERT has made a significant difference in the lives of many of our patients," said Gail D'Onofrio, MD, chief of Emergency Medicine, who introduced Project ASSERT to YNHH in 1999. "Our HPAs are skilled at finding the appropriate community-based treatment that will best help patients on their road to recovery."

Last year alone, HPAs screened 1,240 patients at the York Street Campus, and linked nearly 900 directly to substance abuse treatment programs. Of those whom they referred to substance abuse treatment programs, at least 68 percent have enrolled.

According to Dr. D'Onofrio, the merger with the Hospital of Saint Raphael will make Project ASSERT an even more effective program.

"Patients with substance abuse problems frequently use the emergency services on both campuses," said Dr. D'Onofrio. "Now that we are one hospital, we can better coordinate their care, improve their treatment and potentially lower healthcare costs."

The Project ASSERT team on York Street includes HPAs Gregory Johnson, a founding member of Project ASSERT, Ralph Soldano, an 11-year veteran, and Damaris Navarro, and Vanessa Brown on Chapel Street. Project coordinator is Alexei Nelayev, MA.