In January 2015, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision initiated a Naloxone Training and Distribution Program at Queensboro Correctional Facility. Since that date over 19,000 staff, inmates and family members have received training and over 9,000 Naloxone kits have been distributed. Seventeen successful opioid reversals have been reported during the last three years.
The nationwide problem with opioid overdoses is a well-established fact of life in the U.S. On federal, state and local levels, government and community agencies have dealt with this problem. Although some success has been reported, the problem is still at a crisis level.
In an effort to deal with this problem, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision joined with the New York State Department of Health and the Harm Reduction Coalition to train inmates and provide kits. The Department has utilized Naloxone in Medical Units in all of its facilities. This new venture targeted inmates leaving the institutions and returning to the community.
It was determined that the first steps should be the training of staff. The support of staff is crucial to establishing new inmate programs. With the understanding by staff of the intent of the program, it was the hope that they would support the goals of the program. This did in fact take place. However, the response of staff went beyond expectations. Many expressed the benefits, especially in their personal lives, of having a kit to take home. The training at this point was not with the expectation that staff would carry a kit in the facility or use it on an inmate. The kits were not permitted inside a facility and any use of Naloxone was done by medical staff only. Staff, however, were enthusiastic for the training and for the kits.
Training of inmates began at Queensboro Correctional Facility in February 2015. As a re-entry facility, Queensboro Correctional Facility works with inmates preparing for release back into the community. Most inmates stay there for approximately 70 days. Emphasis is on resume writing, development of a residence, discharge planning and preparation for Parole. The Naloxone training was a natural fit into this programming. Inmates are given tools to re-enter the community--Naloxone training and the distribution of kits was another tool for them to bring with them when they leave state custody.
Gradually, staff and inmates in other facilities were trained...