Brittany ComakApr 13, 2018, 12:58 pmApr 13, 2018, 2:29 pm

Hospital program aims to help those who have experienced drug overdoses

Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip says it has connected with 28 patients since initiative launched last month


WEST ISLIP — For those battling substance addiction, there is a new program at Good Samaritan Hospital that could help save lives. According to the hospital, the staff sees about five to seven patients every week in the emergency department in an overdose state. Now Catholic Health Services, in partnership with the Family and Children's Association, will be offering a Sherpa program to those who come in to the hospital after an overdose for one-on-one counseling.

"You wouldn't hike the Himalayas without a strong navigator, without someone guiding you. We realize the challenges of this chronic disease," says Patrick M. O'Shaughnessy of Catholic Health Services.

Program director and peer counselor herself, Melissa Wettengel says the program is so important to keep people from cycling back through the emergency room time and time again. Another doctor says that Narcan should be the least the medical community can do.

"There's a huge and thriving recovery community in Long Island, and while we're connecting people with treatment, even more importantly we're connecting them with that community," Wettengel says.

The counselors have all dealt with addiction and recovery in some way shape or form themselves. Wettengel says they've already connected with 28 patients since they started the program last month.

A survivor of alcoholism says the Sherpa program would have helped him years ago, but that addicts need to want to accept the help.

"The key to recovery is making the decision to get closer to God, away from the drink or the substance, into a program,” Raymond Corpina, who has battled alcoholism. “Let the professionals help, let people tell you what you need to do, get out of the driver’s seat, and just know that you are a person of importance, a person of self-respect, and that you're loved."

"There's something about connecting with someone who gets it, who has been there,” Wettengel says. “And to be able to have that trust and to be able to let your guard down and open up is really what's going to help someone make the linkage to the system and stick with it."

What's On Now & Next



Oyster Bay, New York