In the face of a startling rise in the number of heroin deaths in Nassau County and the devastating impact that heroin abuse has had on local families, Hempstead Town and South Nassau Communities Hospital are partnering to develop a program that will train and supply Hempstead Town Public Safety Officers with the heroin overdose reversal agent Narcan. Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and Senior Councilman Anthony Santino joined with Dr. Joshua Kugler of South Nassau Communities Hospital to announce the new program at a press briefing at Oceanside Park.
“I want to thank South Nassau Communities Hospital for its commitment to saving lives as we confront the scourge of heroin,” said Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray. “This institution’s President, Richard Murphy, is invested in the well-being of our neighborhoods, and together South Nassau Communities Hospital and Hempstead Town are making a positive difference in the lives of our residents.”
“Heroin is destroying families on Long Island and across the nation,” said Santino. “I am committed to working with Supervisor Kate Murray and South Nassau Communities Hospital to help save lives as we work to defeat heroin abuse.”
South Nassau Communities Hospital plans to develop a program with the town that will provide training for over 30 Hempstead Town Public Safety Officers in the use of Narcan and recognizing the symptoms of a heroin overdose. These officers, many of whom patrol town parks and other town facilities in marked vehicles, would be available to respond to heroin overdose emergencies. Beaches and parks are among areas of focus for town officials.
“South Nassau Communities Hospital is dedicated to community outreach,” stated Murphy. “Together, Hempstead Town and South Nassau Communities Hospital will develop a program that will result in more resources to prevent heroin overdose deaths.”
“The abuse of opiates is a growing public health concern on Long Island, and this program is one step we can take to help address the issue and potentially save lives,” said Dr. Joshua N. Kugler, Chairman of South Nassau’s Department of Emergency Medicine. “With proper training, making Narcan more available for use by safety officers and other first responders in the field has been effective.”
The partners will develop written policies and procedures that will cover a host of protocols in areas such as training, documentation, quality assurance, among other program imperatives. Subsequently, South Nassau Communities Hospital and Hempstead Town will move ahead to implement the plan.
This heroin overdose reversal initiative follows an initiative by Murray that has increased funding to heroin recovery and intervention programs in Hempstead Town.
“Heroin abuse is destroying families in this county and across the nation,” concluded Murray. “There has been a 90% increase in heroin deaths in the first 6 months of 2015 over the same period last year. We need programs that will help victims of drug addiction and their families.”