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New Mobile Medication Unit deployed in the Bronx to help treat substance abuse

By Shosh Bedrosian

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    NEW YORK (WCBS) — There’s a new approach to substance abuse treatment in New York City.

Officials are making it as easy as bringing services to the sidewalks in neighborhoods most impacted in hopes of helping more people.

“All people have to do is walk out the door, and then they have treatment right there in front of them,” said Chinazo Cunningham, commissioner of the New York State Office of Addiction Services & Supports.

All aboard this groundbreaking mobile medication unit. The $500,000 investment by the state is all part of a plan to transform the way patients with substance abuse can get help in the Bronx.

“They’re individuals that otherwise would not make it into our doors, would not have the motivation or the access to come to our facilities so we’re bringing the treatment right to them,” said Dr. David Collymore, Chief Medical Officer of Acacia Network.

In partnership with the state, the nonprofit Acacia Network launched the first-ever mobile unit in the borough.

Staff showed elected officials how the system would work with patients approaching the window for service and receiving medication-assisted treatment if needed.

“This is for folks that are in treatment for opioid use disorder. So this is to prevent them from relapsing and overdosing,” Collymore said.

City and state officials say the fentanyl epidemic disproportionately impacts the Bronx, and the mobile unit will be in locations that experience high rates of homelessness.

“The Bronx has one of the highest rates of overdose deaths in the state, and so we know that methadone treatment, which is what is happening on this mobile unit, is lifesaving,” Cunningham said.

The mobile medication unit will be located inside of a Days Inn parking lot for now, and inside of the unit, the space is big enough to treat about two patients at a time.

Our CBS New York community journalists reported on the state’s first of 11 mobile units they rolled out last year in Upper Manhattan. They say with this second unit, it will reach people in corners of the Bronx who typically wouldn’t seek help.

“Bringing treatment that’s accessible to people in the South Bronx, it’s critical. It will save lives,” Cunningham said.

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