The Warm Handoff began as a six-month pilot program in November 2016 at Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC) and staffed a peer counselor in the emergency department around the clock.
The peer counselors are people in long-term recovery who engage patients who have suffered an overdose or come to the emergency department inebriated to see if they are interested in treatment.
Should they accept, they are escorted to the treatment facility that has been set up for them by a social worker.
“Addicts don’t want to listen to doctors — we feel judged by them, they don’t know what we’re going through. We will listen to other addicts because they know our struggle, they know how bad it is,” Cristina B. told the Advance when asked about a peer counselor program.