With a focus on harm reduction, the new and free resource aims to provide life-saving measures from opioid overdose
(SAGINAW) – A Naloxone vending machine was installed today at the Saginaw County Health Department (SCHD). It is the first of its kind within the Great Lakes Bay Region and a vital tool to address the opioid crisis and the stigma of substance use.
At no charge, the vending machine dispenses: 1) fentanyl test strips to detect the presence of fentanyl in street drugs, and 2) Naloxone (also known as Narcan), a life-saving opioid overdose-reversal tool that bystanders can use to revive an individual long enough to get paramedics on the scene. These products are free to anyone — no questions asked and no identification required — Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. -5 p.m., in the SCHD lobby, 1600 N. Michigan Avenue in Saginaw.
“Overdose deaths are a growing public health concern,” says Christina Harrington, MPH, SCHD health officer, pointing to the 299% increase in opioid-related deaths in Michigan since 2011. “In 2020, 2,171 Michiganders died by opioid overdose – 55 in Saginaw County alone,” she notes. “Improving access to life-saving supplies by housing this vending machine in our building is an easy yes for us!”
The vending machine and its contents are designed for anyone, including friends, family, and community who know or interact with someone at risk for opioid overdose including those:
- Taking high doses of opioids as prescribed for pain
- Living with opioid use disorder
- Misusing opioids prescribed for others or using illicit opioids like heroin or fentanyl
The vending machine project is part of an ongoing partnership between SCHD and the CAREring Quick Response Team (made up of the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, Ten16 Recovery Network, Mobile Medical Response and other partners). Program support for the vending machine was funded by a grant from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
“This is an incredible opportunity to get help and hope into the hands of not just people who use opioids or other substances, but every community member,” said Andrea Foster, chief of staff and director for program development, opioid response with the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance. “Naloxone is vital to battling the opioid crisis and lethal doses of fentanyl are turning up in more and more substances. You never know when you may need to save a life.”
Saginaw now joins Ann Arbor, Jackson and several northern communities offering free Narcan and fentanyl test strips from a vending machine.
The installation comes shortly after other local efforts to raise awareness about harm reduction including:
- The four-story mural on the side of the health department building inspired by a local recovery group.
- A new syringe exchange program called Room 202 on the second floor of SCHD.
- Launch of BWell Saginaw, a multi-organization public health initiative focused on mental health/substance use, obesity/chronic disease management, and maternal/child health.
Additional grant funds may be used for additional naloxone vending machines. Those interested in installing a vending machine in Bay or Saginaw counties may contact Andrea Foster for more information at [email protected].
If you or someone you know is struggling, please call SAMHSA’s 24-hour hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). If you would like more information about the CAREring Quick Response Team or local resources available, please email [email protected].
About the Saginaw County Health Department
One of the state’s first established state departments, the Saginaw County Health Department is spearheading a multi-organizational post COVID-19 recovery initiative called BWell Saginaw to help move Saginaw County from one of Michigan’s least healthy communities to one of the Top 25 by focusing on mental health/substance use, obesity/chronic disease management, and maternal/child health. For more information, visit www.saginawpublichealth.org and www.bwellsaginaw.org
About the CAREring Quick Response Team
Established in 2020, the CAREring Quick Response Team is a collaborative effort between the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, Ten16 Recovery Network, Mobile Medical Response, Great Lakes Bay Health Centers and Peer360 aimed at reducing harm for those who use substances and providing support and recovery resources to those in the Great Lakes Bay Region.
The Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, Inc. is a 501(c)3 focused on achieving sustainable system change and improved health outcomes of people within a 14-county region in central Michigan. The organization focuses on improving health within our region through a comprehensive focus on sustainable systems change. Founded in 2007, the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance functions as an integrator or backbone organization to guide the health ecosystem at a regional level, accelerate competitive advantage, foster long-term sustainability and enhance the existing efforts of its valued partners. More information is available at https://mihia.org/