Newswise — JULY 19, 2021, Nutley, NJ – Experts from Seton Hall University and Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine will host a virtual conference July 30 to address the record number of opioid deaths in the nation, treatment options and training clinicians to prescribe addiction medication.

The virtual conference, “Recovery from Opioid Use Disorders: State-of-the-Art Science to Advance Clinical Care,” will cap a three-year federal grant shared between the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, the Seton Hall University College of Nursing, and the Seton Hall University School of Health and Medical Sciences. 

“The opioid epidemic is one of our nation’s greatest health challenges,’’ said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, the chief executive officer of Hackensack Meridian Health. “We are deeply committed to expanding access to care for addiction and mental health issues, better coordinating care and innovating treatment.’’ 

More than 93,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year, a staggering record that reflects a nearly 30 percent increase from 2019, according to the CDC. Nearly 450,000 people died from overdoses involving both prescription and illicit opioids from 1999-2019, according to the CDC. 

The conference features keynote speaker Beth Macy, an award-winning journalist and the New York Times best-selling author of Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America, as well as industry leaders in the field of opioid-use disorders. Experts will discuss compelling research and treatment protocols considered best practices. 

“This is the product of three years of highly collaborative interprofessional work into training future clinicians to be best prepared to combat this epidemic,” said Kathleen Neville, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, associate dean of Graduate Studies and Research at the Seton Hall College of Nursing. 

“This presentation shows what’s at stake, and what we can do to save as many lives as possible in the years to come,” said Stanley R. Terlecky, Ph.D., associate dean of Research and Graduate Studies, and chair of Medical Sciences at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. 

According to Brian B. Shulman, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, ASHA Fellow, FASAHP, FNAP, dean of the School of Health and Medical Sciences, “Research conducted by SHMS faculty and administrators working interprofessionally has helped to expand our knowledge in various disciplines and push the established boundaries of this national epidemic to target the widespread misuse of opioids.” 

This event caps the Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant which was awarded in 2018 to an interprofessional leadership team with members from Seton Hall University and Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine: College of Nursing Associate Dean Neville; School of Health and Medical Sciences Department Chair and Assistant Professor Christopher Hanifin, Ed.D., PA-C; and Hackensack School of Medicine Professor Terlecky. The purpose of the grant, “Seton Hall University and Hackensack Meridian Health Interprofessional Medication Assisted Treatment Training Program,” is to train nurse practitioners, physician assistants and medical students on medication-assisted treatment for individuals with opioid-use disorders. 

Additional conference speakers will present on their respective areas of study. Alexis LaPietra, D.O., Chief of Pain Management/Addiction Medicine at the Alternative to Opioid Program at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center, will present the Alternative to Opioids Program, a unique alternative to opioid treatment for acute pain in the emergency room. Ramon Solhkhah, M.D., Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, Jersey Shore University Medical Center, will speak on the current status of the opioid-use crisis and evidence-based solutions, and Steve Drzewoszewski, MSW, LCSW, LCADC, CCS, Former Director of Substance Abuse Counseling Services at HMH Carrier Clinic, will present on motivational interviewing and OUDs. 

During the event, each project director will also present their respective schools’ outcomes of their grant, with CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health Robert C. Garrett introducing the conference with Seton Hall University Provost and Executive Vice-President Katia Passerini. 

“Recovery from Opioid Use Disorders: State-of-the-Art Science to Advance Clinical Care” is on Friday, July 30, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. CME will be offered to healthcare professionals. This educational activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™


To register for the event and to learn more about the agenda and speakers, visit here.




Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the largest, most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care. 

Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 17 hospitals from Bergen to Ocean counties, which includes three academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, JFK Medical Center in Edison; two children's hospitals - Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital in Hackensack, K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital in Neptune; nine community hospitals – Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, and Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin; a behavioral health hospital – Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead; and two rehabilitation hospitals - JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison and Shore Rehabilitation Institute in Brick. 

Additionally, the network has more than 500 patient care locations throughout the state which include ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, urgent care centers and physician practice locations. Hackensack Meridian Health has more than 34,100 team members, and 6,500 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves. 

The network's notable distinctions include having four hospitals among the top 10 in New Jersey by U.S. News and World Report. Other honors include consistently achieving Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and being named to Becker's Healthcare's "150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare/2019" list. 

Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, the first private medical school in New Jersey in more than 50 years, welcomed its first class of students in 2018 to its On3 campus in Nutley and Clifton. Additionally, the network partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to find more cures for cancer faster while ensuring that patients have access to the highest quality, most individualized cancer care when and where they need it. 

Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies. 

For additional information, please visit


One of the country’s leading Catholic universities, Seton Hall has been showing the world what great minds can do since 1856. Home to nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offering more than 90 rigorous academic programs, Seton Hall’s academic excellence has been singled out for distinction by The Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Seton Hall embraces students of all religions and prepares them to be exemplary servant leaders and global citizens. In recent years, the University has achieved extraordinary success. Since 2009, it has seen record-breaking undergraduate enrollment growth and an impressive 110-point increase in the average SAT scores of incoming freshmen. In the past decade, Seton Hall students and alumni have received more than 30 Fulbright Scholarships as well as other prestigious academic honors, including Boren Awards, Pickering Fellowships, Udall Scholarships and a Rhodes Scholarship. The University is also proud to be among the most diverse national Catholic universities in the country.

In recent years, the University has invested more than $165 million in new campus buildings and renovations. The University’s beautiful main campus in suburban South Orange, N.J. is only 14 miles from New York City — offering students a wealth of employment, internship, cultural and entertainment opportunities. Seton Hall’s nationally recognized School of Law is located prominently in downtown Newark. The University’s Interprofessional Health Sciences (IHS) campus in Clifton and Nutley, N.J. opened in the summer of 2018. The IHS campus houses Seton Hall’s College of Nursing, its School of Health and Medical Sciences as well as Hackensack Meridian Health’s Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine.

For more information, visit