Now that some corporations have been held accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic that they helped induce, it is time for communities to tap into settlement money.
“A lot of work is being translated to the community and street level,” said Michael Kink, one of the presenters on tap for NYSUT’s Professional Issues Forum on Health Care.
Kink, executive director of the Strong Economy for All Coalition, a labor-community coalition focusing on economic fairness and income inequality, will discuss the overdose crisis, the opioid profiteers and how to fight back to save lives.
Opioids’ reach doesn’t end at the school door. In fact, the State Education Department and the state Department of Health encourage schools to implement opioid overdose prevention programs and make available free cases of Narcan for each high school in the state.
Many of NYSUT’s hospital nurses, school nurses and home care nurses, along with school counselors, social workers and psychologists, work with students or patients who are struggling with opioid addiction or have a family member who is addicted.
These professionals “are recognized as trusted leaders that people and community rely on,” Kink said. His group and End Overdose New York, a coalition aimed at saving lives and destigmatizing addiction, provide background on the opioid epidemic and are working to roll out more effective health services — including safe injection facilities.
“We’re looking at this as part of a public health movement.”
Public health crisis
Overdoses now kill more people each year than traffic accidents, suicides and homicides combined, according to End Overdose NY.
Kink has worked with the American Federation of Teachers in states where the opioid epidemic has made devastating impacts. Some restorative actions have succeeded in holding corporate pushers accountable. In 2021, $26 billion was awarded to a host of states, including New York, from a manufacturer and pharmaceutical distributors. And in a March 2022 civil case resolution, Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family agreed to pay $6 billion for their role in the opioid epidemic.
Visit nysut.cc/pif522 to register for the free online Professional Issues Forum on Health Care scheduled for May 7.
NYSUT attendees can earn Continuing Education Unit (CEU) credits for their attendance.
The site includes information on the full list of sessions.