Oct. 24, 2018 By Laura Hanrahan
Ridgewood was among several Queens neighborhoods that saw the highest rate of overdose deaths last year, according to the city, which has recently launched a new program to combat the alarming citywide problem.
The neighborhood is among three in Queens, including the Rockaways and Fresh Meadows, ranked with the highest rates of overdose death in 2017.
The borough had 270 residents die from drug overdoses last year, with death rates here highest among residents ages 35 to 54, as well as among white residents, officials said.
The deaths in the borough make up the 1,487 deaths recorded citywide from overdose, with 82 percent involving opioids.
Fentanyl, a highly addictive and high-risk opioid, was involved in 54 percent of Queens overdose deaths.
The alarming overdose stats has lead the Health Department to launch a new life-saving initiative, mainly aimed at educating primary care providers on naloxone, a drug used to reverse an opioid overdose.
“Naloxone saves lives, so we want more clinicians in high-risk communities to diagnose patients at risk of an opioid overdose and prescribe naloxone,” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot.
Over the next several weeks, Health Department representatives will visit at least 800 primary care clinicians throughout the city to encourage them to prescribe the medications to patients at risk of opioid overdose and to people with at-risk friends and family members.
The department will visit all five boroughs, targeting the Rockaways, Hunts Point-Mott Haven, East New York, East Harlem and Stapleton-St. George.
Primary care providers will be taught to identify patients at risk of opioid overdose, offer naloxone and educate patients on how to use the medication as part of the campaign.
They will also be informed about the New York State Naloxone Co-payment Assistance Program, which covers co-pays up to $40 for naloxone.
“In the moments after an opioid overdose, the only thing standing between that individual and death is naloxone,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, chair of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. “It is vital that every community, particularly those at highest risk, be blanketed with naloxone, and offices of primary care physicians are a fantastic distribution point for information and access.”
Major chain pharmacies in New York City like Walgreens, Duane Reade, Rite Aid and CVS now offer naloxone. Over 600 independent pharmacies citywide have agreed to dispense the medication without a prescription.
The medication is also available for free from registered opioid overdose prevention programs.