Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the City of Boston will be installing opioid overdose reversal kits in municipal buildings, thanks to a $30,000 donation from Aetna. The donation will be used to install kits containing the overdose reversal medication naloxone (Narcan), clear instructions for its use, and other medical supplies to assist individuals who experience an overdose. Prior to implementation, the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services will offer on-site voluntary overdose prevention and naloxone administration trainings to all interested City employees.
“Increasing access to naloxone has been a core strategy in the City’s approach to countering the opioid epidemic,” said Mayor Walsh. “The unfortunate reality is that overdoses occur in all parts of our City, including in and around City buildings. By ensuring that City of Boston buildings have naloxone on-site and that employees are trained on how to use it in an emergency, we can continue to lead in the national fight against this epidemic.”
Following successful pilots at all Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) buildings and select Boston Public Library locations, opioid overdose reversal kits will now be available to use in case of an emergency at Boston City Hall, 26 Court Street, and 43 Hawkins Street. All remaining city buildings will have kits by the end of the calendar year.
“We are dedicated to helping prevent and address opioid misuse in the communities we serve,” said Aetna Senior Vice President Erich Twachtman. “By increasing the availability of Narcan across Boston, we hope it will give more people a chance to get the help they need for recovery.”
Naloxone is a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdoses, by binding to opioid receptors to reverse and block the effects of opioids. Naloxone cannot be abused, and does not have significant adverse side effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has encouraged workplaces, particularly those that serve the public, to keep naloxone on-site and establish a policy for responding to overdoses.
Last year, Boston EMS recorded the use of naloxone for 1,928 patients. The City trains and distributes overdose reversal kits throughout the community and trainings are offered online, by request and twice-monthly drop-in trainings open to the public. Last year, the Recovery Services team trained over 6,600 people, and received reports of over 2,300 overdose reversals. The Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services supports businesses and other organizations to establish protocols for responding to overdoses in their buildings and implement overdose prevention plans.
In 2014, Mayor Walsh announced that all first responders would carry the overdose reversal medication naloxone, expanding its reach to the Boston Fire Department and the Boston Police Department. The City of Boston’s Post-Overdose Response Team (PORT) conducts follow-up visits after non-fatal overdoses. PORT, a collaboration between Recovery Services,the Boston Fire Department, and Boston EMS connects individuals and families with overdose prevention information, including naloxone, and recovery services through in-person home visits.
In his first term, Mayor Walsh made expanding access to recovery services in Boston a priority by creating the Office of Recovery Services to study substance use in Boston and lead the city’s strategy around substance use disorders, addiction and recovery. This is the first municipal recovery office in the nation.
The City has taken a comprehensive approach to tackle the opioid epidemic. The City serves people in all stages of the continuum of care, from providing harm reduction services to ensure people can maintain health in various aspects of their lives, to connecting people with beds at treatment programs, to offering outpatient care and long-term peer supports.
The City of Boston is planning an innovative and holistic recovery campus on Long Island that will expand essential recovery services for the region, fill gaps in the continuum of care and utilize the natural environment to provide a healing space. The City has contracted with Gensler and Ascension Recovery Services to identify the types of services, resources and treatment options that would be best suited for the island and create a master plan for the recovery campus.
Continuing these efforts, the City of Boston filed a complaint in Suffolk Superior Court against 13 opioid manufacturers, four distributors, and one local doctor that have contributed to the local opioid epidemic through misleading marketing and reckless dissemination of opioids that has led to the deaths of more than 830 Boston residents since 2014. As part of the litigation, the City is seeking to recover both past and future damages and injunctive relief associated with addressing the opioid epidemic in Boston.
For more information about overdose prevention, please visit: boston.gov/recovery.