On a sunny Wednesday morning in June, our Community Advisory Board (CAB) gathered in the kitchen of the Church of the Holy Apostles in Chelsea, excitedly preparing for their summer outreach event.
CUCS’s CAB is a group of formerly homeless men and women who received psychiatric services from CUCS’s Janian Medical Care. They now use their experiences to help people in similar situations. At their outreach events, they distribute mental health, primary medical care, housing and referral resources along with care packages containing items such as socks, soap, toothbrushes and water bottles.
What made this summer’s CAB event different from those in the past is that guests were also given the opportunity to learn a life-saving skill. The CAB brought with them 25 kits of Naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote, and offered a kit along with training on how to use it to interested individuals.
Drug overdose is the leading cause of death for both sheltered and unsheltered homeless New Yorkers, accounting for 37% and 29% of deaths respectively.* With the prevalence of opioids in the homeless population on the rise, trainings like these are crucial in the effort to reduce drug overdose deaths.
“Do you want to save lives?” CAB members Freddie and Cheryl asked the crowd. With a sample of the nasal spray in hand, they demonstrated how to administer the drug. They explained in detail how to tilt the individual’s head back and spray half the dose into each nostril. “Make sure to have someone call 911 or call them yourself,” Freddie said as he signed the Naloxone kits out to trainees.
In just two hours, 25 people were given the tools to save a life and over 125 people received important information and care packages. The CAB plans to bring more Naloxone kits to their next outreach event so they can teach even more people how to save lives and be heroes.
*Twelfth Annual Report on Homeless Deaths (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017) New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Bureau of Vital Statistics New York City Department of Homeless Services