Encouraged by Narcan initiative, city officials eye safe needle sites
Since July, the city has handed out 19,000 packs of Narcan across Philadelphia — more than triple what it handed out all last year. They call it “flooding the zone.” And it’s saving lives in Kensington, even as the city projects 1,250 overdose deaths this year, the overwhelming majority from opioids. That’s one more death per day than last year’s toll.
Now officials are looking to expand their preventative efforts, and have traveled to Vancouver where a comprehensive model is in place.
“It’s the most comprehensive harm-reduction model I’ve ever seen,” said David Jones, commissioner of Philadelphia’s department of behavioral health. City health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, spoke about how normal the site in Vancouver seemed — how it saved lives, undeniably. Even though heroin overdose deaths are spiking in Vancouver, in the 10 years the safe-injection site has been open, not a single person has died on the premises.
“These show a model for how supervised injections could occur and save lives,” Farley said. “And it was a model supported widely not just by medical staff and community advocates but also by the police department.” The sites weren’t a panacea, they stressed — but in Canada, and soon in Seattle, they were a vital part of the solution.
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To read more about how Philadelphia is expanding its public health fight again overdoses, please visit Philly.com.