On the morning of May 8, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program was delighted to host a press conference by Senator Edward J. Markey, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security and a member of the Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking. The Senator reintroduced the Stop Fentanyl Overdoses Act, and completed a training on how to administer Naloxone, also known as Narcan, a medicine capable of reversing a deadly opioid overdose. According to the CDC, bystanders were present during 1in 3 overdose deaths and if one of those bystanders is trained and has Narcan on hand, it could be the difference between life and death. The training was led by Tehya Johnson, a nurse practitioner working in harm reduction services at BHCHP.
The reintroduction of the Stop Fentanyl Overdoses Act at BHCHP highlights our organization’s commitment to addressing the issue of opioid overdoses among our patient population. Overdose is the leading cause of death among our patients, accounting for 1 in 3 deaths in the fentanyl era which began around 2014 in Boston. This legislation aims to strengthen our nation’s public health response to the opioid epidemic through multiple ways: expanding testing for fentanyl and additives like xylazine, limiting civil and criminal liability for people administering opioid overdose reversal medications like Naloxone, improving access to treatment for opioid use disorder among those who are incarcerated, and requiring more research into overdose prevention centers and international mail and cargo screening.
During the press conference, Sen. Markey also remarked on BHCHP receiving $450,000 in federal funding to support our medical respite care operations and upgrading of existing infrastructure. Stephanie Sullivan, BHCHP’s CEO, thanked the Senator for his longstanding support of our mission to provide equitable and dignified access to high quality care for individuals and families experiencing homelessness in our community. After the event, Sen. Markey toured specific areas of the Program, namely Complex Addictions Treatment (CAT) and Supportive Place for Observation and Treatment (SPOT), where our patients can access overdose treatment services.
We are immensely grateful to the Senator and his staff for partnering with us for this press conference. If you would like to watch the Senator’s remarks at the event, click here.