January 20, 2022

'It's About Caring' Davila Says of RealFix Program to Fight Opioid Abuse

"It’s about love, it’s about caring, it’s about the City of Paterson," Council President Martiza Davila said regarding RealFix and its partners.

Mayor Andre Sayegh was joined by members of his Administration, City Council President Maritza Davila, and medical professionals on Thursday to celebrate Paterson's place as just one of 15 cities globally on the list of winners of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge.

Paterson’s Appropriate Medication-Assisted-Treatment Anytime, Anywhere, also known as RealFix, was awarded $1 million in addition to technical support and coaching over three years.

“I’m proud of the fact that Ed Boze, (Chief Innovation Officer) had the idea,” Sayegh said. “He put together a team to address a long-standing challenge. To Michael Bloomberg and his team, we are profoundly grateful for being one of 15 and one of only three cities in the U.S., that received this million dollar award, so that we can help save lives.”

“Congratulations to Mayor Sayegh and our entire city," Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr. said. "Out of hundreds of entries from across the globe, we should be proud that Paterson’s initiative was recognized. The danger of opioids and addiction in our homes and on our streets cannot be overstated. But, with Paterson’s RealFix program and initiatives like it, our communities will have a new tool in the battle against opioid addiction and to help at-risk individuals."

The goal of RealFix is to make Suboxone, a medication that can alleviate withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings and protect against overdose, more easily available than illicit opioids. RealFix will also provide data-driven referrals to vetted Medication-Assisted Treatment providers, thereby providing transparency.

“As the world works to address the profound public health and economic effects of the ongoing pandemic, cities can implement innovative ideas at a pace that national governments simply can’t match,” Michael Bloomberg. “Our fifteen winners offer bold, achievable plans to improve health, reduce unemployment, empower women, and more. Collectively, they have the potential to improve millions of their residents' lives – and the most successful solutions will inspire cities around the world to embrace them.”

While partnering with Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, the City has also partnered with Eva’s Village. The Opioid Response Team has engaged with individuals on the streets and has made 400 referrals. The Team is comprised with a Paterson Fire Department EMT, a police officer and an outreach worker from Eva’s Village.

“This is exactly what partnerships are all about,” Council President Martiza Davila said. “Mr. Boze is working, and I appreciate the Council for allowing the administration to go forward. What is needed in this City, out of everything else, is love. It’s about love, it’s about caring, it’s about the City of Paterson. I’m happy to be a part of what the Mayor calls, ‘Partners in Progress.’”

“Our game changing approach is to provide better customer service in addiction treatment,” Boze said. “Our solution, RealFix, will, for the first time anywhere, make getting the best treatment for opioid addiction faster, easier and cheaper than opioids.”

Residents will soon be able to call 8-3-3-REALFIX, or 9-1-1, and be connected to a TeleDoc who will wire a prescription over to a 24/7 pharmacy that will help fill the prescription and deliver it to the resident within 90 minutes. Once the prescription is delivered, the resident will then be referred to a medication assisted treatment center, which Rutgers New Jersey Medical School has vetted.

“Those referrals will also be visible on RealFix,” Boze said. “No longer will you be choosing the treatment center blindly and no longer will poorly performing treatment centers operate with impunity.”

“During the pilot, these patients, at the end of the session, were so thankful,” Dr. Tony Junejua who specializes in addiction medicine and psychoanalysis and one of the RealFix TeleDocs said. “ ‘God Bless you’ is what some of them were saying. I couldn’t believe it. As Ed Boze said, we have to make treatment easier than getting heroin, and he is 100% right. So, anybody who has opiate use disorder should be one using of these three medicines [Suboxone, Naltrexone or Methadone]. Is it for the rest of your life? No, not necessarily, but maybe we are a disease management society, and we need to turn into a disease prevention society.”