CA Bridge Substance Use Navigators Meet Patients Where They Are


CA Bridge

Kelvin Sen, CA Bridge SUN

At Highland Hospital in Oakland, CA, Kelvin Sen is helping to save lives every day. He’s not a doctor or nurse, but the role he plays is just as critical to connecting patients struggling with addiction to the care they need: Kelvin is a Substance Use Navigator (SUN) who ensures that patients who come to the emergency room get treatment for substance use—a condition that kills over 100,000 Americans each year.

PHI’s Bridge works across the country with professionals like Kelvin so that anyone can walk into an ER, day or night, and get started on medications that help people recover from addiction.

Stigma and discrimination often prevent patients from disclosing substance use and seeking treatment—but SUNs meet people where they are, building trust and addressing fears and concerns, and ultimately acting as patient advocates and coaches. SUNs also help to connect patients with outpatient treatment and community partners, so that they’re supported with resources and care at every step in their recovery journeys.

“It’s never, ‘you’re on this side, I’m on that side,’” says Kelvin. “You’re here for help, and that’s what I’m here to do.”

Watch: What Is A Substance Abuse Navigator?

The Bridge Navigator Program provides all participating hospitals with access to materials, training, and technical assistance for navigators, clinicians, nurses, and other hospital staff and stakeholders. All participating hospital EDs receive support to:

  • Hire or maintain an ED-based navigator

  • Identify, screen, interview, and link patients with substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health conditions to appropriate treatment

  • Educate providers about MAT

  • Build a stigma-free environment that welcomes disclosure of substance use and provides rapid, evidence-based treatment

  • Navigate patients with co-occurring mental health conditions to outpatient treatment

Kelvin Sen
"It's never, 'you're on this side, I'm on that side. You're here for help, and that's what I'm here to do." Kelvin Sen

Substance Use Navigator, CA Bridge

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