BUFFALO, N.Y. — The University at Buffalo is expanding its Buffalo MATTERS Network across the state to reach more people suffering from opioid addiction. The program is currently available at 17 hospitals throughout Western New York.

Buffalo MATTERS provided medication-assisted treatment for patients in emergency departments and transitions them to a clinic of their choice within the first 24 to 48 hours of being admitted. 

Patient information is entered into a secured, online database. Once the patient answers a questionnaire about their history, they are shown a list of clinics they can contact for an appointment. 

Buffalo MATTERS also has a voucher program to help patients without insurance to pay for their treatment.

More than a year after he first got treatment for opioid addiction, Thomas Depanceao says his life has completely changed.

"It's a lifelong struggle, to be honest, but from day one to day now is a completely different universe," he said.

He credits a referral through the Buffalo MATTERS Program for saving his life. 

"Before when I got the medication, I didn't feel like I had to fight for it," he said.

Buffalo MATTERS connects opioid overdose patients in the emergency room, with treatment programs within two days of first being admitted. 

The program was started by Dr. Joshua Lynch at the University at Buffalo and it's now expanding to hospitals across New York State, so more patients like Depanceao can get access to treatment.

Dr. Lynch said he's already seen a drop in overdoses since the program launched.