Monday, June 17, 2019
Regional leaders look to City of Providence for innovative opioid crisis response initiative that connects participants to recovery services 24/7 at all 12 Providence fire stations
PROVIDENCE R.I. – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today joined members of the Providence City Council, Healthy Communities Director Ellen Cynar, elected, public health and safety officials from across New England, program participants, as well as community partners at Messer Street Fire Station to announce Providence Safe Stations’ 100th visit and award Providence State Opioid Response funds to address opioid overdoses in Providence. Providence Safe Stations has garnered praise for providing those struggling with substance use disorders the ability to connect with treatment and recovery services by visiting any of the 12 Providence fire stations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“Providence Safe Stations has been the first step to recovery for many struggling with addiction in the capital city,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “We’re excited to reach this milestone with those participants and encouraged by the broad interest in launching similar efforts so that all Rhode Islanders know that they are not alone on their journey to sobriety. If you or a loved one needs support, please know that when you are ready, help is here at any time, at any Providence fire station.”
The opioid epidemic is regarded as a public health crisis that has swept across the nation. According to Prevent Overdose RI, approximately one in four of Rhode Island’s overdose deaths occur in Providence. Providence Safe Stations is a city-wide response that connects those struggling with addiction and substance use disorders to peer recovery services and access to certified treatment options for long-term recovery. Services are facilitated by The Providence Center, the state’s leading mental health and addiction treatment provider, through its Anchor Recovery program.
“Safe Stations provides a place that is safe, and where the staff has the means and know-how to help those in crisis immediately,” stated City Council President Sabina Matos. “Drug addiction is a disease that does not single out any one community or any one socio-economic background. It is pervasive, and this initiative saves lives. And celebrating over 100 individual lives saved is a celebration worth having.”
Providence Safe Stations launched in January 2018 as a partnership with The Providence Center, the State’s Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) and was based on successful program models from Manchester and Nashua, NH. Since its inception, the program has seen over 100 visits with 92% of individuals requesting to enroll in on-going peer recovery support.
“The Providence Center and Anchor Recovery believe that there are many different paths to recovery – we want to encourage yours,” said Jonathan Goyer, Manager of Anchor MORE (Mobile Outreach Recovery Efforts). “If you are struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, we welcome you to begin your recovery journey today. We look forward to connecting you to people who have first-hand experience in addiction and recovery so that you don’t have to travel the path alone.”
Marking the milestone, public officials including representatives from the Rhode Island cities and towns were provided technical assistance and guidance on best practices and strategies to implement similar service programs. Cross collaboration to expand access to recovery services through similar initiatives would provide Rhode Islanders a much broader net of support with the goal of reducing opioid dependence and overdoses state-wide. The City of Newport is in the final stages of the launch process for Newport Safe Stations.
Additionally, City of Providence announced that through a competitive application process, the Providence Healthy Communities Office has awarded nearly $375,000 in RI Department of BHDDH State Opioid Response (SOR) funds to five agencies working to reduce and respond to overdoses in the capital city. The awarded agencies and programs are:
- Building Futures RI to integrate the “Opioids & Construction: Why it Matters and What We Can Do” curriculum into its pre-apprenticeship building trades program.
- Refugee Dream Center to educate recently settled refugees about proper use, management, and risks of opioid medications, through its “Journey to Health” program.
- Project Weber/RENEW to train and distribute naloxone and fentanyl test strips to individuals at risk of overdose, and conduct outreach to engage community members in peer-led recovery support groups.
- Rhode Island Hospital to connect discharged patients with substance use disorders to appropriate care, including primary care and nursing home settings with medication-assisted treatment, and needed social supports.
- The Miriam Hospital to support the social, emotional, and physical health needs of individuals who have been impacted by overdose, by screening Recovery Clinic patients for health-related social needs, helping them develop action plans and navigate support, and connecting patients to affordable legal representation.
Further, City of Providence SOR funds will be used to provide Providence Fire/EMS with naloxone and overdose prevention information to distribute to individuals who have been involved in rescue calls for overdoses or other substance use disorder issues.