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Executive Council to mull $1m in grants to fight opioid crisis

By DAVE SOLOMON
State House Bureau

August 22. 2017 12:49AM


CONCORD — Nearly $1 million in state grants to fight opioid addiction will go before the Executive Council for approval on Wednesday, including $200,000 for Serenity Place in Manchester and $200,000 for Harbor Homes in Nashua to keep the Safe Station programs operating in the state’s two largest cities.

The Department of Health and Human Services will ask the Executive Council on Wednesday to approve no-bid contracts with the two recovery services, retroactive to June 30.

“This request is retroactive and sole source because this service is a critical component of the Safe Station programs,” according to Katja Fox, director of the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services. “Funds in this agreement will be used to provide temporary crisis respite shelter care to individuals in crisis who are receiving services through the Manchester and Nashua Safe Stations programs.”

The Safe Station program, pioneered in Manchester, has proven to be an effective way to reach people struggling with addiction and get them into treatment. All fire stations in both cities are open to anyone suffering from substance abuse disorders at any time of the day or night, where firefighters are trained in how to respond to various situations.

In many cases, the individuals who come to the fire stations for help are homeless, according to Fox, which is where organizations like Serenity Place and Harbor Homes come in.

“Respite shelter services provide clients with a temporary, safe, substance-free environment, while they stabilize and receive treatment services,” writes Fox in her funding request. “In addition, these services help clients to identify more permanent, safe housing options.”

The previous respite shelter provider in Manchester, Helping Hands Ministries on Lowell Street, recently notified DHHS that it would no longer be able to provide the respite shelter beds after June 30.

Serenity Place, affiliated with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, agreed to take over the respite shelter services in Manchester as of July 1. In Nashua, Harbor Homes will begin to provide respite shelter, if the funding is approved.

The funding request includes the latest statistics on the effectiveness of the Safe Station programs. Between May 2016 and April 2017, there were 1,529 visitors to fire stations in Manchester seeking help with addiction, many of whom were temporarily housed in respite shelter.

In Nashua, from November 2016 to June 2017, 406 individuals sought treatment at a fire station.

“Since its inception, there have been no known overdose fatalities in clients who have entered into services through the Nashua Safe Stations program,” writes Fox.

“There was also a 13 percent reduction in overdose-related visits to the Southern New Hampshire Hospital emergency room during the same period.”

The council will also be asked to approve the following grants related to addiction prevention and treatment:

• Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem, $220,000, for substance abuse prevention services to youth and their parents or caregivers;

• North Country Education Services Agency, Gorham, $175,000, for substance abuse prevention services to youth and their parents or caregivers;

• Farnum Center, Manchester, $200,000, for substance use disorder intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization services in Manchester and Franklin.

Money for the grants comes from the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, which in the current fiscal year receives 3.4 percent of the profits from the New Hampshire Liquor Commission.

dsolomon@unionleader.com


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