January 31, 2024

Columbia County Celebrates Opening of New Harm Reduction Vending Machine

Columbia County Celebrates Opening of New Harm Reduction Vending Machine

Catholic Charities partners with MATTERS and MHACG to open new vending machine in response to overdose epidemic

Hudson, NY – On Wednesday, January 31st Columbia County officials and residents gathered to celebrate the ribbon cutting of a new harm reduction vending machine, installed outside of the Mental Health Association for Columbia/Greene, to improve access to life-saving supplies for individuals with Substance Use Disorder.

Catholic Charities Care Coordination Services, Medication for Addiction Treatment and Electronic Referrals (MATTERS) and Mental Health Association for Columbia/Greene (MHACG) partnered to station the new harm reduction vending machine at 713 Union Street, Hudson, NY 12534.

The vending machine dispenses lifesaving supplies such as; the overdose reversal medication, naloxone, fentanyl test strips and xylazine test strips. Individuals can access up to three items at a time completely free of charge. In order to access the contents individuals must enter the authentication code found on the outside of the machine, their year of birth, and their zip code.

“Now more than ever, innovative responses are needed to positively impact the lives of people who use drugs,” said Candace Ellis, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Care Coordination Services. “We are excited to be part of a collaboration that makes access to life saving supplies easier in Columbia and Greene counties. People who use drugs deserve access, support, and kindness as we work to mitigate the risks associated with drug use.”

There are a total of 13 MATTERS harm reduction vending machines installed throughout New York State. Each one is strategically placed outside treatment organizations, peer service locations, county health departments, private businesses, and first responder/law enforcement agencies in specific geographic areas being effected by the ongoing overdose epidemic.

“I am excited MHA of Columbia Greene (MHACG) and our Clubhouse programs have the opportunity to collaborate with Catholic Charities and MATTERS to provide free 24-hour public access to NARCAN, fentanyl and xylazine test strips,” shared Kai Hillman, Program Director at MHACG. “We know that we want to give people the opportunity to utilize these methods to reduce harm and live another day. Having these available and knowing how to use

them can be just as important as knowing CPR, first aid, or what to do in a fire to save a life of a friend, family member, or even a stranger.”

As of January 31st, the vending machine is open 24/7, 365 days a year for individuals who need it.

Dr. Joshua Lynch, MATTERS Network Chief Medical Officer, stated, “MATTERS is committed to helping those with Substance Use Disorder across New York State get linked to treatment and have access to harm reduction education and supplies. Our vending machine program aims to provide easier access to these life-saving resources. Catholic Charities was one of the first partners with MATTERS in the Capital region. We are proud of this partnership and look forward to this machine serving our community”.

For questions about MATTERS contact Mila Pakhomova at lpakhomova@mattersnetwork.org.

About Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany is one of the largest, private social services organizations in the region. Serving 14 across some 10,000 square miles, Catholic Charities serves and empowers all persons in need, regardless of race, creed, religion, or lifestyle, as well as advocates for a just society and collaborates with women and men of good will. Last year, more than 100,000 people turned to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany for assistance. Through the generous support of donors and the community, we are able to assist the poor and vulnerable with housing, food, emergency assistance, disabilities services, senior services, and much more.