Jersey City Council to vote on pilot program for health testing/harm reduction kiosk


The Jersey City Council will take a vote on a resolution for a pilot program for a health testing and harm reduction kiosk at Wednesday’s meeting, with some of the particulars explained during today’s caucus.

Screenshot via Microsoft Teams.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“This is a partnership to install health kiosks – kiosk, singular – we’ll start with one at the plaza over at Jackson Square,” began Jersey City Division for Disease Prevention Director Paul Cate.

“It is a harm reduction kiosk that will provide fentanyl-Xylazine test strips, Narcan, to address the opioid crisis, as well as ‘Test My Drink’ kits to identify elicit drugs in drinks. We will be launching this on May 10th in conjunction with Opioid Awareness Day.”

He added that the cost of the pilot program is $43,950, which is completely covered by grant funding.

After Ward E Councilman James Solomon asked about how the items would work and how people would access them, Cate said the items would be provided to the public free of charge, while Longview Technology Services will continually stock the products.

If the pilot program is successful, Cate said the plan is to roll out the kiosks in each ward starting once the calendars turns over to 2025.

When Solomon again asked for the significance of each item that will be stocked, Cate noted that Xylazine, better known by its street name tranq, is a central nervous system depressant that is extremely lethal and has recently been a problem in Philadelphia.

The downtown councilman also asked if other cities were utilizing something like this, to which Cate said that Atlanta has over 30 machines, while Washington, D.C. and Seattle are also giving the kiosks a try.

As far as New Jersey goes, Jersey City would be the first in the state as long as the city council decides to move forward with the pilot program.

Following questioning from Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore, Cate said the kiosks would be operational 24/7 and that residents would not have to provide any sort of identification to access the products.

They will have the option to provide demographic information that will be helpful when deciding whether or not to expand the partnership down the road, but it is not required.

Gilmore also asked how the word would be spread to the community.

“There will be a press release, we will be using city social media platforms to get the word out there too … We’re trying to carve out some money for another grant and do an advertising campaign to raise awareness of the machine,” Cate explained.

“Right now, it would really just be for the machine at One Jackson. As we do scale the program out, it’s not gonna be successful unless we raise awareness, unless people know it’s there and what we can use it for. The onus is really on us, us being HHS, to let people know the machines are there and what’s being provided.”

He also said that each individual product contains a pamphlet with instructions on how to use it in response to a question from Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera.

Additionally, Councilwoman-at-Large Amy DeGise what could be done about one person attempting to “clean out the kiosk” and access all the available products at once.

“There is a product-limit distribution, but just per interaction.  I can get back to you on that in terms of going back in again and going back in again, but the company has launched this very successfully in other cities and municipalities, so they do have measures in place,” Cate replied.

Furthermore, Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley wanted to know if a product could be tracked once it left the kiosk, for example if Narcan from the machine was used to save someone from an overdose, to which Cate said that is not possible.

The Jersey City Council will convene on Wednesday at City Hall, 280 Grove St., for their regular meeting at 6 p.m., which will stream live on Microsoft Teams.

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