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Press Releases

City Hall In Your Borough: First Lady Chirlane McCray, CEO Stanley Brezenoff Launch Two New Programs at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln To Combat Opioid Epidemic

As part of HealingNYC, these new programs will transform care for New Yorkers working to overcome substance misuse

May 26, 2017

New York, NY

As part of HealingNYC, First Lady Chirlane McCray and CEO Stanley Brezenoff today announced the launch of two programs at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln to combat the opioid epidemic in New York City. These initiatives will expand naloxone distribution throughout the entire hospital, and create a hospital-based support system for nonfatal opioid overdoses.
The programs are just two components of NYC Health + Hospitals’ work to transform its substance use care model into a system of excellence as it addresses harmful opioid use across New York City. The launch of the new programs supports the City’s commitment to increasing access to medication-assisted treatment for addiction for an additional 20,000 New Yorkers and reducing opioid overdose deaths by 35 percent over the next five years.
“We are making it easier for New Yorkers who struggle with substance misuse to get the essential treatment they need,” said First Lady of NYC Chirlane McCray, who leads the city’s mental health and substance use disorder efforts. “By expanding the distribution of naloxone and providing peer workers and addiction counselors we will save lives and provide people with a dedicated support system on their journey to recovery.”
“Establishing NYC Health + Hospitals as a system of excellence for addressing harmful opioid use is a critical piece of HealingNYC, our City’s plan to disrupt the opioid crisis and save lives,” said Dr. Herminia Palacio, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. “These standardized, system-wide opioid treatment strategies place our robust public health system at the leading edge of medical care for those who need these critical services.”
“The Bronx has some of the highest rates of overdose in New York City, so the launch of these programs at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln aims to reach many patients in need,” said Stanley Brezenoff, Interim President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals.
“Our public health system is working vigorously to help our patients by offering comprehensive care and resources, including naloxone kits, at many touch points throughout our health system, and we are pleased to partner with the City and First Lady to make our shared vision a reality.”
“Our emergency department—the busiest in the state—provides care for far too many people suffering from substance use disorder,” said Milton Nuñez, Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln. “Our dedicated staff is committed to expanding the ways we serve our Bronx communities and to developing a model of care for substance use disorder that becomes the standard for not just the City, but the nation.”
Each year, NYC Health + Hospitals diagnoses more than 50,000 patients with a substance use disorder. The public health care system handles more than 60 percent of all opioid-related emergency department visits in the city, amounting to more than 30,000 opioid-related emergency department visits each year. At NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln, approximately 11 percent of patients are treated for substance use disorder.
One of the new programs at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln, in the South Bronx, will expand naloxone distribution throughout the hospital, making naloxone kits more readily accessible to patients and caregivers. Naloxone kits will be distributed broadly by the hospital’s pharmacy, beyond its substance use disorder program, to include the emergency department ambulatory care, behavioral health, and pain management service areas. The program will help reach more patients with this life-saving medication by increasing the number of naloxone kits distributed from just over 100 last year to 800–900 kits this year. The program will also standardize workflows to facilitate the program’s expansion to the remaining ten public hospitals citywide.
The second initiative, supported with funds from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, will use addiction counselors and peer advocates in the hospital’s emergency department to screen each patient who presents with non-fatal opioid overdose, opioid intoxication, or a history of harmful opioid use. Peer advocates, who have lived experience with substance use disorder treatment, will use their personal stories and insights to connect with vulnerable patients at a time when they may be receptive to help, in an effort to connect patients to care and resources.
More New Yorkers died last year of an opioid-related overdose death than from car crashes and homicides combined. The rise in deaths is due in large part to fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine which can be mixed into heroin and other drugs. Before 2015, fentanyl was involved in fewer than 5 percent of all overdose deaths in New York City, but during the second half of 2016, fentanyl was involved in nearly half of New York City overdose deaths. Staten Island and the Bronx had the highest rates of overdose death on 2016, 29.4 and 25.4 per 100,000 people, respectively.
HealingNYC is the city’s new comprehensive effort to reduce opioid overdose deaths by 35 percent over the next five years. The City will invest $38 million annually to implement the following strategies: distribute 100,000 naloxone kits citywide, increase access to medication- assisted treatment for addiction for an additional 20,000 New Yorkers by 2022, and train an additional 1,500 health care providers to provide buprenorphine. HealingNYC builds on ThriveNYC, the city’s efforts to reform mental health care.
“The newly launched HealingNYC programs at NYC + Health Hospitals/Lincoln represent a clear commitment from our City to adequately combat the alarming rise of opioid overdoses across New York City, especially in the Bronx,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “I commend our City’s efforts as they take the appropriate steps to provide New Yorkers, both patients and caregivers, with increased access to opioid services and resources to treat this harmful addiction.”
“Opioid overdose is a huge problem in New York City and we need to do everything we can to increase access to treatment,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. “We need to make sure that we’re treating both the physical and mental symptoms of addiction. I applaud First Lady Chirlane McCray and NYC Health + Hospitals for their commitment to this issue and for their work to combat opioid abuse.”
“The resources being allocated today are incredibly important and will have a real impact in our ongoing fight against opiate addiction and overdoses in the South Bronx,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr. “With respect to naloxone kits – they work in saving lives, which is why I am so pleased to see this initiative.”