Sunset Park’s NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn is one of two hospitals in the city recently selected by the New York City Department of Health to receive an opioid overdose program called Relay, which is part of HealingNYC, an effort to reduce opioid overdose deaths.
The program focuses on people who have survived an opioid overdose and therefore are at increased risk of fatal overdose. In the hours after an overdose event, a Relay “wellness advocate” — a trained peer advocate with firsthand experience of substance use — meets the patient in the emergency department to offer overdose risk reduction counseling, opioid overdose rescue training, and a naloxone kit.
NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn is now one of the 10 hospitals citywide to offer the program.
“The Relay program meets New Yorkers at very high risk of overdose death at a critical time of need,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “By offering overdose education and naloxone, referring patients to effective treatment with buprenorphine or methadone, and making connections to harm reduction programs and other social services, wellness advocates are keeping people who use drugs safe and preventing future overdose. We are pleased to have the NYU Langone network, which has an impressive history of treating people who use drugs.”
Participating hospitals contact Relay 24/7 to dispatch a wellness advocate to meet the patient. Wellness advocates stay in contact with patients for up to 90 days and connect them to appropriate support services, including overdose prevention, harm reduction, substance use disorder treatment, and social services such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and emergency housing.
“An expanded Relay program will help those people who have survived an opioid overdose but are still at risk of overdosing in the future,” added Assemblymember Felix Ortiz. “Trained peer advocates can help patients avoid future abuse problems. I welcome this new effort at the NYU Langone Hospital in Brooklyn. Every measure we can take to help save lives makes a difference.”
Relay launched in June 2017, and had distributed 1,308 naloxone kits and engaged 851 participants as of April, 2019.
According to the Department of Health, the city’s goal is to address the opioid epidemic and save as many as 400 lives by 2022.