Training in South Boston
Today in South Boston, Mayor Walsh announced a series of community-based substance abuse prevention trainings. Mayor Walsh outlined plans for the city to hold community health fairs throughout February in targeted neighborhoods that see a disproportionate amount of substance abuse including South Boston. The mayor also called for all first responders in Boston to carry the opiate overdose reversal medication commonly known as Narcan. Currently all EMT’s and paramedics from EMS already carry the medication and have used it to successfully reverse countless overdoses. Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) will expand the training of the Boston Police and begin training members of the Boston Fire Department so that all first responders have access to Narcan.
Between 2010 and 2012, unintentional drug overdoses increased by 39% in the city of Boston. Heroin and prescription drug overdoses are on the rise among White, Black, and Latino residents. There was a 76% increase in the rate of heroin overdoses between 2010 and 2012, higher than the rate of increase for other substances. The rate of prescription drug overdoses, meanwhile, rose by 38% from 2009 to 2012. As of last week, Boston EMS had administered Narcan 52 times since the beginning of the year compared to 41 times between the same time period in 2013.
The Massachusetts legislature has since enacted the “Good Samaritan” law to help take preventative measures. The legislation offers protection from drug possession charges for people who call 911 to seek emergency medical attention if they are experiencing an overdose or witness someone experiencing an overdose.
The BPHC is organizing five community workshops that will begin in February and take place in South Boston, East Boston, the South End, Dorchester, and Allston-Brighton over the coming weeks.The events will provide interested residents with overdose prevention training, information on how to access Narcan, an overview of the substance abuse system of care in Boston, assistance with accessing services, and the opportunity to meet with neighborhood substance abuse coalitions.
South Boston police station C6 is also one of eleven police stations around the city that are equipped with MedReturn drug collection kiosks. The kiosks, a partnership between the Boston Public Health Commission, Boston Police, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, allow residents to anonymously dispose of unused or expired medication that could be misused or abused. Disposal of medications is free, confidential and accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More information and a map of kiosk locations are available at www.bphc.org/drugtakeback.
The Mayor’s announcement builds on previous efforts to prevent substance abuse and support the treatment and recovery of those impacted by addiction. In July 2012, the BPHC launched PAATHS (or Providing Access to Addictions Treatment, Hope, and Support) as a one-stop shop for anyone seeking information and access to substance abuse treatment services. Counselors help to assess one’s unique treatment needs, describe available types of treatment, make recommendations for treatment, offer access to programs that best meet an individual’s needs, and connect clients to overdose prevention and risk-reduction services.
To help make treatment more accessible closer to home, the PAATHS program has assigned four “patient navigators” that work on a rotating basis at primary care and emergency department settings in South Boston, Allston-Brighton, Dorchester, the South End, and East Boston. An additional patient navigator will soon be available to clients at Healthcare for the Homeless’ outpatient clinic. The navigators team up with primary care, urgent care, and behavioral health staff at each of the designated sites to assess individuals for signs of substance abuse and to connect them to appropriate care.
Photo from BPD news