Ithaca, NY – November 22, 2022 – Cayuga Medical Center (CMC), a member of Cayuga Health, is joining a number of community organizations in Tompkins County as an Opioid Overdose Prevention Program, offering naloxone (Narcan) for free to patients on site. A recent Health Alert from the Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) highlighted the urgency of preventing overdoses, as numbers of potentially fatal overdoses in our community continue to grow. The county has seen an increase in drug related deaths from 19 in 2020 to 25 in 2021 (32%). That number continues to rise in 2022.
Naloxone, the overdose-reversing medication, saves lives, but only if it’s available when an overdose occurs. Early administration is important and can be easily and safely done by anyone.
“Our emergency department, like others across the country, is uniquely positioned for naloxone distribution because of our open access to all community members,” stated Lori Bethke, Director of Critical Care Operations for Cayuga Health. “I am grateful to be part of the interdisciplinary team at CMC that recognized the need and pulled together to make this critical and impactful program happen.”
The CMC ED Naloxone Distribution program will be targeting the distribution of nasal naloxone kits to anyone who may benefit from having this life saving medication in their home. This may include patients who have presented to the ED after an overdose, are known to use illegal drugs, those who are being prescribed opioids for pain relief, as well as to their family and/ or friends.
This program can remove obstacles, such as a lack of insurance or transportation to get to a pharmacy, by offering Narcan to people leaving the hospital who may be at risk for experiencing or witnessing an overdose.
Cayuga Health’s Chief Diversity Officer, Herb Alexander explains, “There are folks in the community that have been doing this for a long time, and we are glad to walk alongside them in this work. The people affected by overdose are loved ones, family members, and members of our community. As a community hospital, it’s important that we commit to achieving health equity, and having Narcan available to those who need it is a key step in this direction.”
Anyone with questions is encouraged to talk to their medical provider about opioid safety, the risk of overdose, and the benefits of Narcan. Most people can get naloxone at a local pharmacy with or without a prescription from a medical provider, and the state’s Naloxone Co-payment Assistance Program (N-CAP) can help cover all or part of the copay.
About Cayuga Health
Cayuga Health (CH) has two hospitals, Cayuga Medical Center and Schuyler Hospital, as well as a multi-specialty group, Cayuga Medical Associates. Combined employment, including affiliate organizations, is over 2,500 employees. CH is clinically linked to Mayo Medical Laboratories, Rochester Regional Health for cardiac services, and the University of Rochester for neurosciences. Visit www.cayugahealth.org for more information.
Steve Savage, Assistant Vice President for Communications