Skip to Content
SBMI logo


Houston Emergency Opioid Engagement System (HEROES)

General Information

What We Offer

The HEROES program is designed for individuals seeking long-term recovery from opioid use disorder. We provide the following set of clinical and behavioral services at no cost in our program.

  • Initial screening by a nurse practitioner
  • Physician appointment to discuss medication-assisted treatment options
  • Same day Rx where medically necessary*
  • Assistance setting up long term treatment
  • Licensed Chemical Dependency Counseling
  • Peer Recovery Coaching
  • Peer Facilitated Support Groups
  • Recovery tracking mobile app
  • Counselor Facilitated Educational Support Groups
  • Recognition for milestones in recovery
  • Peer Recovery Coaching

*While the services provided by HEROES are provided free of charge, participants are required to pay for any prescriptions either with insurance or out of pocket.

Participant eligibility includes adults over 18 years with history of prior opioid-related overdose or opioid use disorder. At this time, we are only able to assist English speaking patients.


Houston sees one opioid related death every 32 hours as opioid related death rates continue to rise in Texas and across the country. Houston Police and Fire departments receive between 50-100 reports of opioid overdoses monthly, and of those about 1 of every 3 or 4 are fatal.

The Emergency Medical System – either 911 or in the ER – is often the first point of care when persons living with opioid use disorder are in crisis. These moments are critical in providing treatment and recovery resources to patients seeking help. We aim to provide comprehensive services to keep patients in treatment and recovery. We help connect patients to ongoing medicated assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, peer recovery coaching, and support groups.

The Houston ER Opioid System (HEROES) is a joint initiative between the McGovern Medical School and the School of Biomedical Informatics at University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston. We aim to assist patients navigate the complex recovery journey by incorporating medical and behavioral support services for optimum engagement and retention in outpatient treatment. We currently have over 300 patients enrolled in our cohort.

Program Description

The purpose of this study is to identify the prevalence of opioid use disorder and opioid-related overdoses across Southeast Texas, and to develop a comprehensive care coordination system to improve retention of patients in long-term treatment. We will help patients engage in treatment, recovery, and follow-up to improve their chances of long-term recovery and improved quality of life. Our program involves novel medication in the emergency department, follow-up from licensed emergency medical technicians, outpatient medication-assisted treatment, and ongoing recovery coaching. Our program is funded by an award from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) targeted opioid response program.

    This comprehensive system of care involves participation with emergency physicians, psychiatrists, emergency medical technicians (EMT), licensed professional counselors, certified recovery specialists, pharmacists, police and fire departments.

    Some of our partners include:

    Houston Emergency Medicine Heroes Houston Emergency Opioid Engagement System
    Texas Health and Human Services Houston Recovery Center Houston Fire Department

    Dr. James Langabeer



    James Langabeer PhD, MBA, EMT, FAHA is a tenured full professor. He holds joint appointments at the UT School of Public Health (Health Management and Policy), the School of Biomedical Informatics, and McGovern Medical School in the department of Emergency Medicine where he also holds the title of Vice Chair of Population Health. He has recently been named Fellow of the American Heart Association conferred by the Council on Quality Care and Outcomes Research (QCOR). → read more

    Tiffany Champagne-Langabeer

    PhD, MBA, RD


    Assistant Professor Champagne-Langabeer focuses on the health policy and informatics components of the program. Her research on use of telemedicine and health information exchanges to improve public health. → read more

    Simone Lee Joannou, M.A


    Simone Joannou is our Administrative Analyst, providing novel insight into making our program run as smoothly and successfully as possible. She has an undergraduate degree in psychology and her Master’s in Philosophy, focusing on Ethics in Mental Health Care.

    Andrea Yatsco


    Program Manager, Research Scientist, Counselor

    Andrea is the HEROES program manager and research scientist. She is an internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor and a state Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. Andrea has worked in corrections, human services, and as adjunct faculty teaching on topics of psychology, substance use, criminology, and criminal justice.

    Jessica Yaeger


    Peer Recovery Support Specialist

    Jessica is a National and State Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist. She is a Recovery Community Leader, Child Welfare Advocate, and has won numerous awards for her work with individuals who suffer from Opioid Use Disorder.

    Kimberly Chambers, MD

    Clinical Director, Physician

    Dr. Kimberly Chambers is a consulting physician for the HEROES program. She is an assistant professor of emergency medicine as well as a practicing physician at both Memorial Hermann Hospital and LBJ. Dr. Chambers is one of the first emergency physicians in Texas to receive approval for maintenance and detoxification treatment of opioid addiction in the ED.

    Samuel Prater, MD


    Dr. Samuel Prater is a consulting physician for the HEROES program. He is the Medical Director at Memorial Hermann Hospital TMC, and is an assistant professor of emergency medicine. Dr. Prater is also the interim co-chair of the department of emergency medicine at UTHealth McGovern Medical School.

    Anand Gourishankar, MBBS, MRCP


    Dr. Anand Gourishankar is a consulting physician for the HEROES program. He is associate professor of pediatrics at UTHealth and an attending physician at Memorial Hermann Hospital.

    Tom Fadial, MD


    Dr. Tom Fadial is a consulting physician for the HEROES program. Dr. Fadial is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, as well as the Educational Technology and Innovation Officer at the McGovern Medical School. → read more

    Samuel D. Luber, MD, MPH


    Dr. Samuel Luber is a consulting physician for the HEROES program. Dr. Luber is also Associate Professor, Vice-Chair Of Education And Academic Affairs, and Assistant Dean for Graduate Medical Education at McGovern Medical School. → read more

    Meredith O’Neal

    Research Team

    Meredith O’Neal is the HEROES Research Assistant, providing essential data collection and analysis for the program. She will be graduating with her MA in 2019.

    Paul Wood, MS

    Training Coordinator

    Paul Wood is the Training Coordinator for the Integrated Opioid Response Program which disseminates the successes of the Houston-based HEROES program to nine other locations in Texas. Paul brings experience in health informatics, hospital operations, adult education, and instructional design along with his work as an offshore paramedic to the program.

    Christine Bakos-Block

    PhD, LCSW-S

    Christine Bakos-Block is an alumna of the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, where she focused on interprofessional research and clinical practice in healthcare. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow with the HEROES Program. Christine lives in Houston with her husband of 18 years, 5 children, 3 dogs and 2 cats. In her capacity as a postdoc, Christine is helping to advance the goals of HEROES through expanding research and pursuing additional grant funding.

    Karina Molina, BS

    Research Assistant

    Karina Molina is the HEROES Research Assistant who is also known as our Gatekeeper. She helps organize appointments, handles all referrals and helps connect our patients to ongoing care in their community. She has a Bachelors in Science concentrating in Health Care Navigation.

    Ma de la Luz (Marylou) Cardenas-Turanzas

    MD, DrPH

    Senior Statistician

    Marylou is our Senior Statistician with vast experience in health care information analysis and synthesis. Marylou’s specific research experience includes research in health services, emergency medicine, oncology, and cancer care supporting areas such as Palliative Care and Intensive Care. She is excellent at forging new partnerships with clinical researchers both nationally and internationally.

    Chad Armstrong, RSS

    Peer Recovery Support Specialist

    Chad Armstrong is a Peer Recovery Support Specialist who is passionate about helping individuals who suffer from OUD. He is a community Faith Based Leader and also strives to help individuals overcome barriers and reach long term recovery.

    Yvonne Reed, LCDC, CCJP, MS

    Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor

    Yvonne is the HEROES Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. She is a Certified Criminal Justice Professional, internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor and a state Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. Yvonne holds a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in criminal justice. She has extensive experience working in the criminal justice and community and social service settings. Yvonne is passionate about serving adults and adolescents struggling with substance abuse, co-occurring disorders and behavioral issues. Yvonne is skilled at establishing positive trusting rapport with patients, with a unique ability of connecting with patients. She motivates, encourages and supports patients to live healthier life styles, live independently and strive to reach their full potential.

    Shruthi Manas, MS

    Data Management Analyst

    Shruthi is the HEROES Data Management Analyst. She holds a Master’s degree in health informatics and has worked on various healthcare academic projects. She is instrumental in creating and managing the HEROES database. She trains the team on using the database. She is also skilled in extracting data, and creating reports and insightful dashboards for HEROES to help the team quickly gain a meaningful understanding of the data and to make better informed decisions.

Latest News and Media for HEROES