New Jersey Department of Health Approves New Prevention Resource Network Harm Reduction Center

To commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day, the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) has approved the state’s first new harm reduction center in five years. The new mobile unit will be operated by Prevention Resource Network’s Harm Reduction Center (HRC), a program of VNA’s Children & Family Health Institute and the VNA of Central Jersey, which will supplement the organization’s existing HRC in Asbury Park.

The NJDOH has approved the new HRC mobile unit to operate in Asbury Park, Eatontown, Keansburg, Keyport, Long Branch, Red Bank, Brick, and Toms River. It will officially launch on Monday, September 18, with all approved sites launching throughout that week. 

“VNACJ is so grateful for the trust NJDOH has placed in us. At the Prevention Resource Network in Asbury Park, we have a long and proud history of providing trauma-informed harm reduction services to our community,” said Cole Zaccaro, Manager of Harm Reduction Services at the Prevention Resource Network. “Our team understands firsthand the importance of compassionate care for our participants’ survival, recovery, and well-being, and we are honored by this opportunity to expand our life-saving and life-changing work throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties.”

“Today, we recognize and celebrate those whose lives have been tragically lost to overdose. Tomorrow, and every day that follows, we continue this work in their honor,” continued Zaccaro.

Overdose Awareness Day, observed annually on August 31st, remembers individuals lost to drug overdoses and supports their families and loved ones, while galvanizing action toward ending preventable overdose deaths.

Nationally, drug overdoses have claimed over 932,000 lives over the past 21 years. Annual deaths are growing, with more than 100,000 reported in 2022, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2022, 3,000 people in New Jersey lost their lives to overdose.

“This Overdose Awareness Day, we join the many thousands of New Jersey residents impacted by overdose in shared grief, remembrance, and determination to end this public health crisis,” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Kaitlan Baston in a public statement. “Our resources must match the scale of the epidemic, which now claims the lives of more than seven residents every day. These new initiatives underscore the Department’s commitment to innovative, evidence-based, and community-driven solutions for the individuals and families who need them the most.”

About Prevention Resource Network’s Harm Reduction Center

The Prevention Resource Network’s Harm Reduction Center is a program of VNA’s Children & Family Health Institute and the VNA of Central Jersey. The program provides various services to those not yet ready or willing to participate in substance abuse treatment. These services include overdose prevention and naloxone distribution, syringe access, wound care, linkages to low-threshold treatment, and many other client-driven resources. PRN’s Harm Reduction Center aims to keep people safe and minimize death and injury from high-risk behavior.

08.31.2023

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