The opioid epidemic continues to plague New York City communities. According to the City’s Department of Health, there were 694 confirmed overdose deaths from January to June 2018, and a fatal drug overdose reported every six hours.
More New Yorkers die as a result of a drug overdose than homicides, suicides and motor vehicle accidents combined.
In Queens, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center which operates one of the City’s busiest emergency departments, has experienced firsthand the detriment the epidemic has caused. Last year, Jamaica Hospital’s emergency department treated over 200 patients for opioid drug overdoses.
“Over the years, we have seen the numbers continue to increase significantly. This epidemic has profoundly affected many individuals and families. Opioid addiction has impacted all genders, ages, ethnicities and those of all socioeconomic backgrounds,” explained Dr. Geoffrey Doughlin, Chairman of Emergency Medicine. “No group is untouched.”
“At Jamaica Hospital our goal is to improve the health of our community in all aspects. We are committed to doing all that we can to combat the opioid crisis,” shared Dr. Shi-Wen Lee, Vice Chairman of Emergency Medicine. In addition to providing life-saving treatments in the emergency department, the hospital is the first in Queens to participate in New York City’s Relay program.
The Relay program, which was launched in 2017 under HealingNYC, targets survivors of opioid overdoses who are at high risk for a future, fatal overdose. According to New York City’s Department of Health, “In the hours after someone survives an opioid overdose, a trained Relay “Wellness Advocate” meets with the survivor in the hospital emergency department to offer overdose risk reduction counseling, overdose rescue training, and an overdose prevention kit containing naloxone. Participating hospitals can contact Relay at any hour of the day or night, on every day of the year, and a Wellness Advocate aims to arrive within the hour. Wellness Advocates stay in contact with overdose survivors for up to 90 days and connect them to appropriate services”
“Jamaica Hospital is proud to work in collaboration with Relay. Since the program’s inception in August 2018 at this facility, our emergency department has made over 50 patient referrals,” said Joshua Sclair, Emergency Medicine Administrator. The hospital’s participation in the initiative offers the community resources that can potentially reduce the number of overdose deaths and provide access to supportive services.
Any person in need of treatment for their addiction can come to the emergency department at Jamaica Hospital and receive help. The hospital has designated detoxification beds and staff that are specially trained to help patients with their treatment.
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