December 10, 2022

EP “Safe Stations” Offer Safe Place for People Suffering from Substance Use Disorder

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East Providence, RI – East Bay Community Action Program (EBCAP), in collaboration with the City of East Providence Fire Department, will institute a program called “Safe Stations” beginning November 2. Under this new program, all four of the City’s fire stations will become a safe place for people to enter and find help for substance use disorder. Captain John Potvin, EMS Director with the East Providence Fire Department, has been instrumental in collaborating with EBCAP to implement Safe Stations in the City. Captain Potvin states, “Providing support to patients with substance use disorders is a high priority for the City of East Providence. Our fire stations are located within the community and symbolize a beacon of help for our residents regardless of their illness or injury.” East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva agrees. “One of our Safe Stations may very well be a life line for someone battling addiction to get the treatment, support and services they so desperately need. We are proud to partner with EBCAP to provide people a first step to treatment and recovery, ” adds Mayor DaSilva.

Tommy Joyce, Director of EBCAP’s East Bay Recovery Center, states the program encourages people seeking help with substance use disorders to go to any of the East Providence fire stations at any time, 24 hours a day/7 days a week. The program also offers support to families or friends of a loved one who is struggling with substance use. Fire Department personnel will contact the on-call Recovery Center staff and, within an hour of the call, a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist will arrive at the station to talk with the individual and provide supports according to the person’s wishes. “If they want to receive medication assisted treatment, we can arrange for an intake with induction of medication within 24 hours at the EBCAP Suboxone Program. If they want to engage in treatment, we can set it up. If they want to become involved in the Recovery Center, we’ll arrange it. If they aren’t ready for any of that, we’ll listen and offer to stay connected so we can support them should they change their mind or need additional assistance in the future. We want to meet them where they are at,” concludes Joyce.

According to Joyce, the possibility that the state of Rhode Island may see more than 400 accidental fatal overdoses by the end of 2020 accentuates the need for such interventions. Based on his experience in the field, he says accidental overdoses have likely been spurred by a perfect storm of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the isolation people are experiencing, along with an influx in the region of counterfeit medications that are laced with Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. There is also an increase of Fentanyl being introduced into the state’s cocaine supply which is another factor in the rise in fatalities.

Joyce states the Safe Stations program is also beneficial in diverting patients from local hospitals’ emergency departments. “The Safe Station model is also an emergency room diversion concept that allows access to support and services outside of a hospital setting. In the times we are in right now, the emergency rooms are busy with COVID-19 and related serious health conditions,” Joyce explains. “A person seeking help with a substance use disorder is not always a priority in emergency rooms and this (Safe Stations) program will allow real time access to services that specialize in substance use disorders. Emergency room diversion programs are a cost-effective way to get individuals specialized services without the high cost of an emergency room visit,” he adds.

Robert Crossley, EBCAP’s VP of Behavioral Health component, notes that EBCAP is uniquely positioned to provide this essential service. “As EBCAP staff members, the Peer Recovery Specialists who will assist at the Safe Stations are able to immediately schedule appointments for our Suboxone Clinic (Medication Assisted Therapy), connect individuals to the agency’s treatment programs, and/or engage them in our East Bay Recovery Center, if the individual so chooses. In addition, EBCAP has a wide array of human services designed to help people. Whether they’re in need of emergency food, a primary care physician, health insurance, or a host of other possible needs, the agency’s Family Development component can help,” states Crossley.

For more information on the Safe Stations program, call Tommy Joyce at 401-302-6231. East Bay Community Action Program is a private, non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation that provides a wide array of health and human services to the residents of Rhode Island’s East Bay, including the municipalities of East Providence, Barrington, Warren, Bristol, Little Compton, Tiverton, Portsmouth, Middletown, Newport, and Jamestown. For more information regarding services and to learn how you too can support the CAP which supports the East Bay community, please visit www.ebcap.org.

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