County board approves Narcan distribution box for District Health Department
Tue, 02/28/2023 - 1:44pm caleb
Facility looking to offer another way for people to pick up free doses of naloxone, which can prevent opioid overdose deaths
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners – during its regular meeting on Thursday, February 23 – approved a request for a Narcan distribution box to be placed in front of the District Health Department #10 building on Norway Street.
Lynda Rutkowski of Up North Prevention, along with a representative from District Health Department #10, spoke to the commissioners about the request during the board’s regular meeting on Thursday, February 9.
Rutkowski said the Health Department is looking to add the Narcan distribution box (a repurposed newspaper vending machine) to the front of its Grayling facility (outside, on county property) through a partnership with Harm Reduction Michigan, which would monitor the box and refill it when needed.
Narcan (naloxone nasal spray) is a “medication designed to help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose in minutes,” according to www.narcan.com.
Rutkowski said Narcan in the distribution box would be available at no cost to people, and the endeavor would not incur a cost to the county. The box would not be locked, Rutkowski said.
Rutkowski said free Narcan is currently available at The Medicine Shoppe pharmacy in Grayling, the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department, and the City of Grayling Police Department, but having another source – one at which people would not have to interact with anyone – could be beneficial. Naloxone saves lives, she said.
“We would like to offer this box in town as an additional resource,” Rutkowski said.
A representative from District Health Department #10 said the proposed box for the Narcan would offer the naloxone “24 hours a day” and people could “plan ahead” to get doses in case of an emergency.
After discussion, the board (with three members absent during the February 9 meeting) opted to table the request to the February 23 meeting. The board had five (of seven) members present on Thursday when it revisited the request.
“We were hoping to get more feedback with more commissioners present,” said Commissioner/Chairwoman Laurie Jamison (District #1).
Commissioner Phil Lewis (District #7), who was not present on February 9, said having more naloxone availability offers more opportunities to prevent opioid overdose deaths.
Commissioner Lewis moved to approve the request. Commissioner Dorothy A. Frederick (District #2) supported the motion.
“It gives them another resource,” Commissioner Frederick said.
During discussion, commissioners asked Crawford County Undersheriff Shawn Schnoor for input.
Undersheriff Schnoor said based on his “first-hand knowledge” naloxone is “definitely effective” for treating opioid overdoses.
“It works,” Undersheriff Schnoor said.
Undersheriff Schnoor said people who come to the boxes for Narcan are not people who have overdosed because at that point it is too late; people who come to the boxes are planning ahead for a possible emergency.
“It has saved tons of lives,” Undersheriff Schnoor said.
One commissioner asked if a lot of teens are overdosing in the community.
Undersheriff Schnoor said the numbers are difficult to calculate because when people treat victims of overdose with naloxone in private there often is no call for emergency services.
Undersheriff Schnoor said “we have a huge problem in general” in the community with regard to drug issues.
The board passed the motion 5-0 (two members absent) to approve the requested Narcan box placement at the District Health Department #10 facility.
“Harm Reduction Michigan is a health equity organization based in Michigan. Harm Reduction Michigan’s mission is to decrease substance use-related harms in Michigan, in a respectful manner in collaboration with people who use drugs and alcohol,” according to harmreductionmi.org. “Catholic Human Services Up North Prevention initiative was developed to provide a unified approach to reducing substance use disorders in northern Michigan,” according to Catholic Human Services.