January 05, 2022

Dr. Torian Easterling briefs Jewish Community Leadership on Supervised Injection Sites

January 5, 2022 – JCRC-NY hosted a special briefing for Jewish organizational leaders on the recently established Supervised Injection Sites / Overdose Prevention Centers in New York City.  New York City recently became the first city in the U.S. to authorize supervised injection sites, drawing much attention.

The briefing drew Jewish organizational leaders from across the religious, political and geographic spectrum in New York. Not only did it address an important emerging issue, it also illustrated JCRC-NY’s critical role as the table where Jewish leaders can gather to learn about and discuss key issues of the day.

While JCRC-NY has not taken a position on the initiative, we are grateful to Dr. Torian Easterling, First Deputy Commissioner and Chief Equity Officer of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, who joined us to present the benefits of these sites from a public health perspective and address some of the misconceptions and controversies surrounding them.  He believes that were it not for COVID-19, addiction crisis would be the top medical issue in the City.

For context, Dr. Easterling is well-known for his frequent public service announcements to urge New Yorkers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and many other key public health issues.  Last year, JCRC honored Dr. Easterling with our annual Martin Luther King Award for his work in addressing healthcare disparities exacerbated by the pandemic, and we continue to appreciate his leadership on this and many other public health issues.

The New York Times has noted that “opponents view [them] as magnets for drug abuse, but proponents praise [them] as providing a less punitive and more effective approach to addressing addiction.”  NPR reported last week that NYC Mayor Eric Adams supports the continued existence of these sites, and health officials are currently exploring the expansion of these sites.  As such, this new initiative will continue to impact our Jewish community and many other New Yorkers suffering from drug addiction.

Click HERE to watch the video.