Time-saving substance abuse teleconferencing assessment program unveiled in Bensalem

BENSALEM TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A Bucks County police department is piloting a new program designed to get people into a drug addiction treatment program more quickly by using teleconferencing.

Officials say the initiative at Bensalem Township Police is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania.

A demonstration of the teleconference assessment process was conducted during a news conference on Monday morning.

Any Bensalem resident struggling with addiction can come to the Bensalem Police Department and participate in a video conference call with a specialist at the Gaudenzia treatment center in Bristol. A specialist then looks for a bed at a facility if inpatient treatment is recommended.

Officials say the new process will cut the assessment process from four to five hours to 20 minutes - crucial time, according to Fred Harran, Bensalem Director of Public Safety.

"You don't have days or hours. You have minutes," said Harran.

If transportation to treatment is needed, a free Uber ride will be available, paid for by the Kaitlin Murphy Foundation, a Bucks County non-profit dedicated to fighting drug addiction.

Initially, the teleconference assessment program will be available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Bensalem police hope to expand the hours of the program to 24/7 availability in a few weeks.
Copyright © 2019 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.