30 Jun Promoting Health in NYC Neighborhoods: One Life at a Time
“Everything I do on a daily basis is rewarding in some way, but there is nothing like knowing you helped someone to actually LIVE ANOTHER DAY,” says Jason Rice, a member of our Outreach team.
Each day, we work to improve the well-being of individuals and communities and advance health equity. We recently spoke to Jason about his work, which places him outside in our East Harlem community each day – and its multi-pronged approach to promoting health.
“Firstly, we promote health by helping to reduce the amount of disease/pathogen carrying materials that someone can be exposed to while out in the street,” Jason says. “By removing not only the syringes, but syringe caps, used gauze pads, and cookers from the community, we do our best to keep the number of things that can spread disease to a minimum.” Since the launch of our Overdose Prevention Centers, our Outreach team has collected 1,700,000 units of hazardous waste from parks and public spaces.
Cleaning up these items often puts our team in contact with people who use drugs, providing opportunities to provide harm reduction. “We also pass out clean syringes and equipment to reduce the temptation to reuse syringes found on the street,” Jason shares. “We are educating IV drug users on safe injection practices, cleaning wounds and abscesses, having safer sex, and showing them how and when to use Narcan. We can NEVER distribute enough Narcan in the community. Narcan truly saves lives.”
Jason often spends time outside a local school near our Drop-In Center, clearing syringes and reducing public drug consumption by redirecting community members to the center. This also provides the opportunity for greater intervention when needed.
“Last week, I saw a participant who was having an overdose… we responded to and reversed the overdose, saving this man’s life. When I saw the man in the Drop in Center smiling and drinking coffee an hour later, I just stared at him in awe of the importance of what we do.”
This is the core of OnPoint NYC’s mission – we work to create a safer community for everyone, while providing those that use drugs with life-saving harm reduction services to improve outcomes and live with dignity.