Contact: Amelia Trigg
October 23, 2018
(518) 348-7457

Upstate New York Hospitals Collaborate to Administer Alternatives to Opioids in the Emergency Room

ALBANY, New York — With all levels of government grappling with the national opioid crisis, regional approaches to addressing this public health crisis are growing, and proving to be extremely impactful. Earlier this year, the Iroquois Healthcare Association (IHA) established the IHA Opioid Alternative Project, a groundbreaking pilot program aimed at reducing the administration of opioids in Upstate New York Emergency Departments (EDs).

“Emergency rooms are often the first contact patients have with opioid pain killers,” said Gary J. Fitzgerald, President of IHA. “As such, Upstate New York hospitals are in a strong position to reduce opioid use, particularly as their EDs provide care for increasing patient populations vulnerable and at risk for opioid abuse and addiction.”

The pilot, made possible through funding in the 2018-19 enacted State Budget, takes a unique approach to pain management without the use of opioids.

Senator George Amedore (R, 46th SD), Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, said, “In order to continue our efforts to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic, it’s important that prescribers and patients have alternatives to help manage pain. This pilot program is an important initiative to reduce the use of opioids that can cause addiction.”

In August 2018, IHA identified 17 member hospitals and health systems from across the region to participate in the pilot.

Those hospitals and health systems include:
 Albany Medical Center, Albany NY
 Bassett Medical Center, Cooperstown NY
 Crouse Health, Syracuse NY
 Ellis Hospital, Schenectady NY
 Glens Falls Hospital, Glens Falls NY
 Mohawk Valley Health System, Utica NY
 Nathan Littauer Hospital, Gloversville NY
 Oswego Health, Oswego NY
 Rome Memorial Hospital, Rome NY
 Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown NY
 Saratoga Hospital, Saratoga Springs NY
 St. Joseph’s Health, Syracuse NY
 St. Mary’s Healthcare, Amsterdam NY
 SUNY Upstate University Hospital, Syracuse NY
 St. Peter’s Health Partners Albany Memorial Hospital, Albany NY
 St. Peter’s Health Partners St. Peter’s Hospital, Albany NY
 St. Peter’s Health Partners Samaritan Hospital, Troy NY

“Emergency departments are on the front line of the opioid crisis,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. “These 17 hospitals can be models for broader training of emergency physicians to utilize opioid alternatives when clinically appropriate.”

Clinicians from these hospitals met last month to establish protocols for administering alternatives to opioids.

Dr. Adam Rowden, an emergency medicine physician at Albany Medical Center said, “I am excited to be part of a regional approach to curbing opioid use. One of the best ways to prevent opioid misuse and dependence is to decrease their use and minimize exposure to patients not currently taking them. These guidelines are evidence-based and treat pain while minimizing the risks for opioids.”

Despite each hospitals’ individual efforts to tackle opioid use and misuse, Dr. Ross Sullivan, emergency medicine specialist at SUNY Upstate Medical University said, “We all agree on the common message and goals. All parties are on the same page and eager to get going. It’s not often we all use plays from the same playbook but it’s important for us to continue to evolve and take care of our patients in an efficient and safe manner using alternatives that may actually treat pain better than opioids.”

“We need to curtail the alarming rise in opioid use across New York,” stated Senator Kemp Hannon (R, 6th SD), Senate Health Committee Chair. “Despite our best efforts thus far, the opioids public health crisis continues to take the lives of far too many people. Finding new and innovative means of prevention and treatment are key, and using alternatives to opioids is essential. That is why the Senate funded the Opioid Alternative Project. I congratulate the hospital ERs for their work and look forward to their continued success.”

“I commend the Iroquois Healthcare Alliance for its leadership in addressing this critical healthcare and societal issue, which shows no signs of slowing down, and in fact is getting worse. Emergency Departments are the ‘front door’ to our hospitals and as such present a perfect opportunity for clinical, and in many cases, lifesaving intervention to help reduce the use of opioids in our communities,” said Kimberly Boynton, President and CEO of Crouse Health and board chair of IHA.


About Iroquois
The Iroquois Healthcare Alliance (IHA) is a regional healthcare trade organization representing 54 hospitals and health systems, spanning over 28,000 square miles, across 32 counties of Upstate New York. IHA is the leading resource for facilities and professionals bringing quality health care to the region. IHA represents the unique needs of rural, small community safety-net providers to large, academic medical centers in Upstate New York’s urban areas through advocacy, education and information, cost-savings initiatives and innovative business solutions. For more information, please visit