THE BRONX, N.Y. (PIX11) — On any given day or night, you can bump into someone on the street and hear a familiar story laced with fear and frustration.
PIX11 News recently met Gio on the street in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. He was in bad shape but was willing to talk about fentanyl — the dangerous and often fatal opioid.
“I’ve lost five friends to fentanyl,” said Gio.
On Wednesday, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson joined NYC Health and Hospitals CEO Dr. Mitchell Katz to announce a new $6 million budget allocation to upgrade Bronx public hospitals.
Among them are Jacobi Medical Center and Lincoln Hospital, which has the third busiest emergency room in the United States, according to a recent study.
The funding will go toward adding beds, updating imaging technology, and other equipment upgrades aimed at addressing a broad spectrum of health-related issues.
But make no mistake, officials acknowledge the upgrades will also go a long way toward addressing the ongoing fentanyl crisis and hopefully reducing the number of fatal fentanyl overdoses.
A 2021 New York City data analysis revealed the Bronx has the highest number and the highest rate of fatal fentanyl overdoses in the city.
“We have a way to look at some of the signs of what individuals are going through when we talk about drug addictions,” said Gibson.
Dr. Katz added: “When people have taken too much fentanyl, it suppresses the brain activity. MRIs help us to analyze how the brain functions and enable us to restore people back to their state of health.”
For Gio, there isn’t a day when he doesn’t worry about becoming another statistic. “What they’re doing is it’s killing each other. It’s messed up,” he said.
Gibson said separate from the new $6 million budget allocation, she’s also pushing for the Bronx to open its first overdose prevention center. There are currently only two such facilities operating in the city — both in Manhattan. Both are controversial for their operating model — to supervise users on site — to help reduce overdoses.