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Small businesses become Narcan rescue stations on eastern Long Island

Mel Evans

Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital is collaborating with local businesses to launch Narcan rescue stations on the East End.

Narcan is an opioid overdose recovery treatment.

Janet Jackowski, vice president of Behavioral Health and Social Services at the hospital, said she hopes the program removes the stigma surrounding substance abuse and misuse.

“This is an issue. This is a public health crisis. People are in pain,” Jackowski said. “So for anyone that needs help, I would hope that they can reach out and that they can understand that there are people in the community that will welcome them with open arms and provide them with the support and the treatment that they need.”

Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital, which is part of the Stony Brook Medicine healthcare system, is a premier provider of behavioral healthcare for eastern Long Island and Suffolk County, offers advanced medical care to residents of the North Fork and Shelter Island, and hosts a Psychiatry Residency Program.

The initiative to set up local stations comes after six people, who ranged in age from 25 to 40, died of overdoses of cocaine laced with fentanyl over the course of a single week in 2021.

Richard Vandenburgh, the owner of Greenport Harbor Brewing Co., said his business is participating in the project.

“If you have a second chance, you have a second shot at life in terms of trying to regain control of your future,” Vandenburgh said. “That’s all that this initiative hopes to accomplish, is to give those people that opportunity to have a second chance at a future and not the tragic end that we witnessed back in 2021.”

Stations will come with multiple doses of naloxone to save lives from overdoses.

William Mokus is a patient at Quannacut Outpatient Services and has been in recovery from opioids for seven months after nearly losing his life in the summer of 2022. He’s asking people struggling with substance abuse to reach out, saying “it’s okay to ask for help.”

“My story isn’t for everyone,” Mokus said. “But I hope it does at least reach one individual. If I can help one individual every day, or every week, that’s a win in my book.”

Several Greenport businesses, including Claudio’s, Ellen’s On Front, GDC Roller Skate Rink and Front Street Station have already committed to installing Narcan rescue stations.

Clare Gehlich is a news intern at WSHU for the fall of 2023.