A free community forum this Thursday hosted by the Ithaca Plan will include an educational presentation, two panels, remembrance, and Narcan training for community members, say organizers. The event marks International Overdose Awareness Day, which is August 31st.
“New Yorkers are dying from preventable overdoses, so the Ithaca Plan is joining cities across the world to host a forum with local experts on International Overdose Awareness Day,” says Katharine Celentano, policy coordinator with the Drug Policy Alliance, whose New York policy office is based in Ithaca.
Included in the session will be training in the use of Narcan, a brand name for Naloxone, a drug that can save lives when administered to people who are overdosing on opioid drugs. Attendees trained in the use of Narcan will be given their own Narcan kits.
Ithaca Police Department officers carry Narcan kits thanks to a grant from the Office of the New York State Attorney General, according to IPD public information officer Jamie Williamson.
“As a career prosecutor, I know we cannot arrest our way out of fatal overdose,” says Gwen Wilkinson, former Tompkins County district attorney and interim drug policy coordinator for the Ithaca Plan. “The overdose crisis is a public health crisis, and as such, it has a public health solution.”
Featured speakers will include Judge John C. Rowley, Family and County Court in Tompkins County; Gwen Wilkinson, Interim Drug Policy Coordinator, City of Ithaca, and former District Attorney of Tompkins County; Katharine Celentano, Policy Coordinator, Drug Policy Alliance; Brian Briggs, Senior Peer at the Southern Tier AIDS Program; Phoebe Brown, Assistant Coordinator at the Ultimate Reentry Opportunity at the Multicultural Resource Center; Fabina Colon, Director of the Multicultural Resource Center; Veronica Dedrick, Social Worker at Cayuga Medical Center; Will Fox, paramedic at Bangs Ambulance; Dr. William Klepak, Medical Director of Tompkins County Health Department; Dr. Heather MacAdam, Cayuga Addictions Recovery Services; Michele McElroy, Deputy Executive Director of the Southern Tier AIDS Program; Angela Sullivan, Executive Director of the Alcohol and Drug Council of Tompkins County; Justine Waldman, contracted service provider at the Southern Tier AIDS Program and emergency room physician; and Lieutenant Jacob Young, Ithaca Police Department.
“We must act as a supportive community to save the lives of the people who still live with addiction, and we must remember those who have died from overdose, in all of their humanity,” says Judge Rowley. “Saving lives requires cutting through the stigma and sense of isolation felt by people who live with addiction.”
Wilkinson tells us no advance registration is required for Thursday’s forum, which takes place from 4:30-6:30pm at the Space at GreenStar.