BY TRONE DOWD
Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray announced on Monday that the city plans to invest an additional $22 million into fighting the opioid epidemic in New York City and intends to expand existing efforts.
One year ago this month, McCray—who has led the initiative since its inception—and de Blasio launched HealingNYC, a citywide plan to combat the opioid crisis in the five boroughs and reverse a climbing overdose death rate.
According to the mayor’s office, more New Yorkers died of drug overdoses in 2016 than suicides, homicides and car crashes combined. The program had a whopping $38 million investment by the mayor, with the goal of saving more than 400 lives by 2022. Just a year into the program, HealingNYC appears to have already taken hold, with the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) reporting a flattening in the rising trend during 2017.
With the addition of the $22 million allocation, the first couple aims to bring numerous programs and emergency services to the city’s medical facilities.
“Addiction is a chronic disease, and people suffering from any disease need our help and support, not our judgment or punishment,” McCray said. “Through ThriveNYC, we’re working hard to change the way people think about addiction and mental illness, establish prevention protocols and create a culture of healing and wellness. With this expanded investment, we will open more doors to support for those who need it.”
The mayor agreed.
“The opioid epidemic has destroyed lives and hurt families across the country. In New York City, we are harnessing every tool to stop this deadly surge in its track,” de Blasio said. “This new investment will help to save more lives and connect those struggling with addiction to treatment.”
The funding will help New York City Health + Hospitals expand a number of its programs, including its emergency peer-based interventions, which will increase from availability at three sites to all 11 sites throughout the five boroughs, and the Consult for Addiction Treatment and Care in Hospitals (CATCH) program, which expands from four to six sites, including one in Elmhurst.
“The opioid epidemic is one of the most significant challenges facing healthcare today, especially for public health systems dedicated to caring for those most in need,” said Mitchell Katz, the president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals. “Our work to improve access to evidence-based treatments—in primary care, emergency department, and inpatient settings—focuses on linking thousands of additional New Yorkers to life-saving care.”
The investment will also help fund training programs in the workplace and the city’s Fire Department. FDNY Emergency Services will distribute 5,000 Naloxone kits to homes with family members who are struggling with addiction, while the DOHMH will launch the End Overdose Training Institute to teach 25,000 New Yorkers how to administer overdose treatment in emergency situations.
“Thousands of times a year, FDNY Paramedics, EMTs and Firefighters have utilized quick intervention with Naloxone to save patients suffering from drug overdoses,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. “With this funding to expand HealingNYC, we know in the years to come that many more New Yorkers lives will be saved.”
The mayor’s allocation will also help to cover the cost of hiring 29 additional city workers to respond to overdose calls and connect New Yorkers to care options. This additional staff is expected to help enhance the DOHMH and NYPD 24/7 Triage Desk response times and success rates.
Reach reporter Trone Dowd via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.