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NYC Overdose Prevention Program Expands to Brooklyn Hospital

The Relay initiative provides support, education and naloxone to New Yorkers who have experienced a non-fatal overdose.
Brookdale Hospital Medical Center. Photo: Google Street View.

In an effort to address the escalating overdose crisis in Brooklyn, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced the expansion of its Relay initiative to Brookdale Hospital Medical Center.

The Relay program serves to aid New Yorkers who have experienced a non-fatal overdose by sending a “Wellness Advocate”  to emergency departments to provide support, overdose risk reduction education and naloxone.

Brookdale Hospital Medical Center is the 15th NYC hospital to participate in the health program. The medical center serves a number of nearby neighborhoods, including Brownsville and East New York.

According to the city’s Health Department, East New York averaged just under 50 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents in 2022, a mark that outpaced the citywide average of over 43 fatalities per 100,000.

“We are delighted to partner with the NYC DOHMH to equip our community with the resources and support needed to prevent the fatal consequences of substance misuse and provide access to evidence-based prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery services,” said Dr. Nicholas Vaccari, Chairman of Emergency Room Services at OBH Brookdale Hospital.

Since the program’s launch back in 2017, Relay has since provided services to over 6,600 eligible patients, as well as distributed more than 6,500 naloxone kits as of December 2022.

The expansion of Relay is part of the city’s mental health plan, which aims to reduce overdose deaths by 25% by the year 2035, and improve the quality of life for people who use drugs in New York City, among other goals.

“The scale of the overdose crisis is unprecedented, and we must seize every opportunity to reach people with lifesaving resources,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. 

“Responding to non-fatal overdoses with care, compassion and action is critical to saving lives. Relay is a proven model that reaches people at a critical crossroads, and that can put people on a pathway toward better, healthier and longer lives.”