Jack Amason’s Story: A Life Saved by MAT and IEOCC Members

Jack Amason has battled opiate drug use off and on for 35 years. He finally found the support he needed at the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center’s emergency department, when he was introduced to Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT) through Arrowhead’s new ED Bridge Program.

“I was headed for an overdose, kind of on purpose. I was sick of living this way,” Amason said. “I went to Arrowhead. … They started detoxing me that day. I didn’t feel one bit of pain. No nausea, no restless leg. I couldn’t believe it. This stuff takes that fear and that excuse out of it.”

MAT combines behavioral therapy and medication to treat opioid use disorders. ED Bridge programs are up and running in three Inland Empire hospitals. These grant-funded programs each employ a full time Substance Use Navigator to connect emergency room patients to needed services and to MAT providers in the community, as well as supporting medical staff throughout the hospital to meet this standard of care across hospital services.

While getting other medical care at the Arrowhead ED, Amason met with ED Bridge leaders Dr. Carol Lee and Dr. Edward Pillar, and with Substance Use Navigator Wendy Martinez. Wendy coordinated the care and treatment of Jack and connected him with the Aegis Center in Ontario for outpatient MAT where he continues to receive care. This appreciative patient can’t say enough good about these leaders:

“Dr. Carol (Lee) said, ‘I promise you that this withdrawal won’t be like anything you have had before.’ And she kept her word. Dr. Pillar is so kind and easy to relate to. Wendy is a complete angel. She’s incredible. She has stayed on it with me and my care.”

“I have lost several friends to this disease … Part of the reason (they) ended up with habits is they get on prescriptions from doctors in the first place. They didn’t have means to get on a program, and had no way to know about it. I was blessed when I walked in the door and they said, ‘Hey, there’s a new program here.’ I haven’t used since, not one drop. This stuff not only changes lives but it helps save them.”

Hunter Gatewood