Project ASSERT | Boston Medical Center
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Project ASSERT

Project ASSERT (Alcohol & Substance abuse Services, Education and Referral to Treatment) is a BMC program that helps Emergency Department patients who demonstrate risky alcohol and drug use behavior to access treatment and care. Since 1994, Project ASSERT has offered alcohol and drug use screening and/or referral to treatment for more than 60,000 patients treated for intoxication in the ED.

Project ASSERT is a valuable resource in the community and strives to provide help for any ED patients with substance use dependency issues with whatever they may need to make them well, overall.

Project ASSERT is staffed by health promotion advocates (HPAs). HPAs are not clinicians, case managers, or social workers. They are licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselors who consult and collaborate with BMC clinicians to offer at-risk ED patients alcohol and drug screening and intervention. These unique individuals establish a relationship with the patient that is based on emotional support and the ability to advocate for them.

Staff from Project ASSERT are always present in the ED. When a patient who might be a candidate for services arrives at the ED, a Project ASSERT staff member begins a non-judgmental conversation, with the goal of making it easier for the patient to make healthy changes in their life. This normally consists of a motivational interviewing conversation to help explore how ready the patient is to make healthy changes, and assistance with developing a behavior change action plan.

When the patient agrees to treatment for their drug or alcohol behavior, the HPA will help connect the patient to a substance abuse treatment center and with any other needed services (i.e. insurance, transportation, primary care, temporary housing, etc.). They also provide referrals to health and social services, including primary care services, so patients have complete access to care even after they have left the ED.

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