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Bridge Alliance breakout session, Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Putnam County BR;DGE Alliance Collaborates to Reduce Overdose Deaths

28 March 2024

CARMEL, NY – Last week, members of The BR;DGE Alliance—professionals from across sectors and over 20 organizations—came together at the Bureau of Emergency Services in Putnam. The morning focused on the shared long-term goal to reduce fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses countywide.

A review of data which included information related to 911 overdose-related calls and gathered through law enforcement, was presented by an analyst from the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program covering Putnam County. Attendees then split into three work groups to address topics such as de-stigmatization, hope for recovery, and youth-specific needs.

“We have to approach this problem from every angle as accidental overdose continues to be a leading cause of death across our nation,” said Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne. “Collaboration between different agencies and providers is key so that no one is working in their own silo. We’re very proud of the group we’ve assembled, and it is our sincere hope that this group can foster some unique local solutions to an ongoing global crisis.”

Overdoses remain one of the leading causes of injury-related deaths in the United States. And while the majority of overdose deaths involve opioids, deaths involving synthetic opioids and stimulants have increased in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the rate of opioid overdose deaths in Putnam varies greatly from year to year, data show a general upward trend in opioid overdose deaths from 2010 to 2021 and people who have had at least one overdose are more likely to have another. These factors represent the driving forces behind the establishment of The BR;DGE Alliance a year ago. The mission of the group is to is to create a sustainable and equitable community of providers and residents to expand person-centered services, enhance awareness, and promote health and safety for people who use drugs.  

Shanna Siegel, Supervisor for Health Education for the Putnam County Department of Health said, “We all have different professional and personal experiences that led us to this alliance—but we have a clear shared goal to reduce overdoses in Putnam. In commitment to this goal, we will continue discussing challenging and even systemic issues, such as acknowledging disparities and identifying barriers to achieving better physical and mental health.” 

Lauren Johnson, Putnam County’s newly hired Dual Recovery Coordinator also spoke, saying, “Our vision is that these meetings, and this work will remain a safe space where people can speak freely and respectfully, while also understanding that the language we use matters, and words have power. We encourage our partners to embrace person-centered approaches to prevention, education, harm-reduction, treatment and recovery work—in mental health as well as substance use.” 

The BR;DGE Alliance has expanded since it was launched in March 2023. The steering committee of the alliance meets monthly and includes representatives from Putnam County’s Department of Health, Department of Mental Health, Social Services and the Youth Bureau, Coroner’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, HIDTA, The Prevention Council of Putnam, and The Philipstown Behavioral Health Hub. The expanded alliance, which now meets twice annually, includes the following additional Putnam County agencies: Department of Corrections, Veterans Service Agency, Office for Individuals with Disabilities, and 911. Community partners represent local organizations including Putnam-Northern Westchester BOCES, Putnam County school districts, law enforcement agencies, Putnam-Northern Westchester Women’s Resource Center, MHA Putnam, CoveCare Center, People USA, Green Chimneys, Child Advocacy Center, Putnam Community Action Partnership, and Putnam Hospital.  

The BR;DGE Alliance encourages anyone struggling or who loves someone struggling with mental health or substance use challenges to reach out for help. Resources for Putnam residents can be found at their website:  https://putnamcountyny.com/thebridge 

 

 

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40 Gleneida Avenue
Carmel, New York 10512

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