The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has expanded the Relay initiative to Brookdale Hospital Medical Center, marking its 15th participating hospital.

This programme aids individuals who have experienced nonfatal overdoses by sending peer Wellness Advocates to emergency departments, as well as offering support, overdose risk education, and providing naloxone, a medication for reversing opioid overdoses.

Brookdale Hospital Medical Center caters to regions with high overdose fatality rates.

Hospitals involved in the programme can request a Wellness Advocate through Relay to assist nonfatal overdose survivors.

These advocates maintain contact with individuals for up to 90 days, linking them to various services, including overdose prevention, harm reduction, substance use disorder treatment, and social services.

Since its launch in June 2017, Relay has served over 6,600 eligible participants in emergency departments, distributing more than 6,500 naloxone kits.

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A press statement noted that overdose fatalities in New York City have been on the rise, reaching 3,026 deaths in 2022, a 12% increase from the previous year.

The expansion of Relay services is said to align with New York City’s plan to reduce overdose deaths by 25% by 2035 and enhance the well-being of individuals who use drugs.

More strategies to lower overdose deaths in the state encompass expanding naloxone distribution and establishing overdose prevention centres.

They also include addressing the hazards posed by an unregulated drug supply through drug-checking sites and distributing fentanyl test strips.

This effort to reduce overdose deaths and improve access to quality treatment and recovery services is also a component of HealthyNYC, a plan aimed at extending the average life expectancy of New Yorkers to 83 years by 2030.