Connect with us

Washington, D.C

How D.C.’s first sobering center could ease drug and alcohol addiction

Published

on

How D.C.’s first sobering center could ease drug and alcohol addiction


Paramedics had a choice when the call brought them to a man passed out in the dark at K and North Capital streets Northeast, his arms crossed loosely over his chest.

His breath smelled faintly of alcohol, they noted, as his eyes opened, then closed. He tried to speak.

“Responsive but not alert,” crackled over the radio. “Altered mental status?”

Until recently, their only choice would have been a hospital emergency room. But on this cold January night, the paramedics had another option: the D.C. Stabilization Center, a place where people who’ve used drugs or alcohol can safely recover for up to 24 hours under the care of nurses and mentors who have been in their shoes.

Advertisement

In just over three months, the center on K Street Northeast has surpassed 1,000 admissions.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser opened the center to fanfare last year as part of the District’s overall plan to reduce fatal overdoses, which have killed more than 400 Washingtonians annually for four consecutive years, outpacing the city’s homicide toll.

The facility, one of about 60 across the country in cities such as Baltimore, San Francisco, Houston and St. Louis, aims to link patients with treatment — if and when they are ready. If successful, District officials say, the approach will free up overburdened emergency responders and alleviate strain on hospitals still confronting pandemic-era staffing shortages.

Comprehensive solutions to the opioid crisis have eluded the city as the death toll continues to rise. And while public health advocates have called for the Bowser administration to demonstrate greater urgency and provide more wraparound supports, such as housing, many have hopes that the center will help.

A warm room. A safe place to sleep it off. Someone to talk to who understands. All awaited the man on the curb, if he wanted them.

Advertisement

Paramedics covered him in a pale yellow sheet before loading him onto a stretcher and into the back of an ambulance. Robert Holman, the D.C. Fire and EMS medical director along for the ride this evening, rested a gloved hand on his shoulder and tried to rouse him with basic Spanish. “Cómo sientes?”

The man’s head lolled back under the bright lights as a digital clock ticked off the minutes. 3. Firefighter paramedic Cody Grosch tapped a report on his laptop as paramedics checked his vital signs and discussed his condition.

The radio sprang to life again. The ambulance was on the move.

It was 2018, and the horrors of the pandemic were still years away. Still, medics were taking longer to drop off patients at hospitals as calls were mounting for people on drugs or alcohol, city data shows, reflecting in part a surge of deadly fentanyl into the city’s drug supply.

Holman pushed for a sobering center but knew the city’s Fire and EMS department couldn’t get it done alone. That’s when Barbara J. Bazron, director of the Department of Behavioral Health, reached out, saying she helped set up a similar center in Baltimore and it could work in D.C.

Advertisement

Years later, they are betting millions in city funds annually on the center to help meet a still growing need. There were 427 opioid-related fatal overdoses in D.C. last year through October, according to the most recent data available from the chief medical examiner’s office, putting the District on track to outpace a 2022 high of 461 overdoses.

Bowser declared a public health emergency on opioids in the fall — set to expire Feb. 15 — and a panel of local officials, providers and recovering drug users known as the Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission began meeting in October to make recommendations to Bowser for how to divvy up the settlement funds to prevent and treat substance abuse disorder.

City officials say they know the center won’t solve all the city’s problems with addiction, but it could save lives.

He’s 14. He’s been to five funerals. Can he avoid his own?

The location was an early hurdle. They looked back at a year of data to confirm known hot spots in Columbia Heights and east of the Anacostia River, as well as in central D.C. near Union Station and the homeless shelter at 2nd and D streets Northwest, one of the largest in the nation. Despite pushback from advocates who argued Wards 7 and 8 needed it more, officials chose 35 K St. NE for its central location and the relative ease of using a building where the city already ran an adult behavioral health clinic.

Advertisement

Covid put plans on hold in 2020, and they tried three times to find a local operator before settling on an agency based in Arizona, Community Bridges Inc., to run the center.

Since the center opened in late October, 730 people people have been admitted, some more than once, for a total of 1,019 admissions, city data as of Feb. 5 shows. More than 70 percent of admissions have been Black and 80 percent male. The average age is 45.

Nearly 60 percent of patients used alcohol and at least 10 percent opioids, city data shows, based largely on self-reporting. The opioid antidote naloxone was administered twice, according to city data. The center also sees cases involving PCP, K2 and xylazine.

Nurses typically do a urine drug test and breath analysis on patients, who change into scrubs and can shower and eat if they’d like. Contraband such as weapons or drugs is confiscated.

Officials say they do not yet have a plan for tracking the long-term progress of patients, knowing they may turn down treatment many times before giving it a try. One person visited at least 17 times in just over three months, Bazron said, adding their 18th visit could be the one that does the trick.

Advertisement

About 17 percent of total admissions, 176 patients, have gone to residential treatment or a shelter or gotten a referral for other behavioral health care, city data shows, but for now, that’s where the path ends.

“We’re making an initial hot connection,” Bazron said.

Back on K Street Northeast, the ambulance pulled into the parking lot at the stabilization center, known as Hospital 99 to medics. Flashing red ambulance lights bounced off the beige bricks.

The man lay motionless, his head turned to the side, as paramedics rolled the gurney up a ramp, through glass doors and into the brightly lit lobby. A sign on the wall pledged empathetic care, a safe space to recover and a pathway for a long-term solution.

Nurses were expecting him — and recognized him. The man, 63, had left around noon that same day, they said, planning to go to a shelter. Paramedics found him barely a block away.

Advertisement

“How ya doing? You gonna come stay with us?” the center’s clinical director, Mary Page, asked. He nodded. A wheelchair appeared. “Remember me from this morning? I gave you food?”

Alert to verbal/tactile stimuli? Check. Blood pressure under 200 mmHg. Check. No signs or trauma or need for sutures. Not combative or violent. No chest pain. A nurse searched his jacket and handed a bottle of Taaka vodka to a security officer, who stashed it in a drawer. His clothes and belongings would be catalogued and locked in a bin for him.

They swapped his shoes for grippy socks. His feet dragged on the floor as he was wheeled backward into an intake room. “Feel better,” Holman said after him, as the door closed.

Most patients rest in one of 16 smooth blue reclining chairs under low lights and the soft glow of television, as nurses move around the floor. The average stay is 15 hours.

Paramedics have brought the vast majority of patients to the center — the others come via friends or family or walk in on their own. Not everyone is eligible.

Advertisement

The sobering center is not right for anyone who shows signs of trauma or needs sutures, is combative or violent or has vital signs outside a certain range, among other qualifiers on a 14-point checklist that medics and the center staffer both sign.

Two of these came during another freezing 24-hour shift in January.

At 2:46 p.m., dispatch sent a crew to a reported cardiac arrest — a signal of a possible drug overdose — at Georgia Avenue and Columbia Road Northwest. There, they found a 41-year-old man sitting on the ground in the corner of a bus shelter, clutching the bench seat, his head nodding as he struggled to stay awake.

They suspected alcohol intoxication. The ad behind him showed a hand holding a canister of Narcan. “Be Ready. Save a Life.”

He told paramedics he wanted to get on the bus. At 86 over 70, his blood pressure was too low for the stabilization center. They took him to George Washington University Hospital, where medics spent about an hour and 45 minutes waiting for a bed for the patient, FEMS officials said later.

Advertisement

At 6:33 p.m., it was 26 degrees when dispatchers routed a crew to North Capital and H streets Northwest. Paramedics found a man, 40, shivering and moaning in nothing but a sweatshirt and sweatpants, saying he wanted to kill himself.

Firefighter paramedic Kyle Belton wrapped a blanket over his head and shoulders and propped him up against a building for support.

“Cold,” the man said over and over.

“We’re gonna get you some help,” Belton said.

They pricked his finger to test his blood sugar. At 132 over 78, his blood pressure was elevated. He was shaking too hard for them to get an accurate heart rate. Someone suspected he may have used K2, or synthetic marijuana.

Advertisement

The man wasn’t out of control but was probably off his psychiatric medication, emergency personnel concluded. Suicidal ideation disqualified him from the stabilization center, making a hospital the best choice.

Later, they could arrange a ride for him to a warming center. Belton advised EMTs on their way to prepare heat packs.

Once they eased him into an ambulance, Belton retrieved his sneakers from the street, brushing dirt from the white leather.

“You’re not alone,” Belton told him.



Source link

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Washington, D.C

13 National Margarita Day Deals Around DC – Washingtonian

Published

on

13 National Margarita Day Deals Around DC – Washingtonian


A classic margarita at Mi Vida. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

Thursday, February 22nd is National Margarita Day, and there are plenty of deals for salted-rim enthusiasts:

 

3704 14th St., NW

Alfredo Solis’s Columbia Heights dining room is offering $7 house margaritas during happy hour (4 to 6:30 PM).

Advertisement

 

1121 New Hampshire Ave., NW

Check out this West End hangout for its Cuban spin on a margarita, available today only. The frozen”Old Cuban” is a mix of Havana white rum, lime juice, mint leaves, and champagne. Margaritas are $12 each and pitchers are $35.

 

1218 Wisconsin Ave., NW

Swing by Richard Sandoval’s Georgetown cantina and tequila bar anytime today to grab a $5 margarita.

 

Advertisement

606 Florida Ave., NW #1853

This adult treehouse is serving up $9 margaritas accented with blackberry or mango.  DJ Karen Santana and DJ Vania will crank out tunes on the Shaw spot’s rooftop. 

 

1835 18th St., NW

Margaritas in festive flavors like strawberry, lime, and mango are $4.95 a glass at this Adams Morgan institution.

 

1647 20th St., NW

The spicy mango-passionfruit margarita at Mi Casa. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

This Dupont Tex-Mex place is slinging $5 margaritas in flavors like mango-passionfruit and strawberry.  

 

Advertisement

1606 20th St., NW, 1221 Van St., SE

These Tex-Mex bars in Navy Yard and Dupont will offer $6 margs from 4 PM until last call. And if you’re craving more tequila, Sauza shots are $5 and Patron shots are $7.

 

98 District Sq., SW; 1901 14th St., NW; 575 Seventh St., NW

This trio of Mexican dining rooms is serving $22 margarita flights, with four flavors, until closing time.

 

1823 L St., NW, 1871 Explorer St., Reston

Stop by these Peruvian joints in downtown DC and Reston for $7.50 margaritas all day.

Advertisement

 

520 Florida Ave., NW

A trio of margaritas are available at this Shaw bar–classic, jalapeno, or hibiscus–and are $10 from 5 PM to close. Plus, there’s karaoke starting at 8 PM.

 

1102 Eighth St., SE

During happy hour (3 to 6 PM), stop by to try an $8 hibiscus margarita.

 

Advertisement

1472 N. Beauregard St., Alexandria

It’s ladies’ night at this Alexandria taqueria, and women can order $3.50 margaritas from 6 to 10 PM. Flavors include grapefruit, strawberry-basil, and classic lime.  

 

1850 K Street NW

The Xochi margarita at Taqueria Xochi. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

This taqueria, inside downtown DC food hall the Square, is putting on an all-day happy hour with $8 margaritas and $3.50 chips and salsa.

Amiah TaylorAmiah Taylor



Source link

Continue Reading

Washington, D.C

D.C. Mayor’s Office on African Affairs delivers keynote during ‘Diversity of the Black Experience’

Published

on

D.C. Mayor’s Office on African Affairs delivers keynote during ‘Diversity of the Black Experience’


There are over 16,000 African immigrants living in Washington, and the Mayor’s Office on African Affairs is committed to ensuring there’s greater awareness and access to government programs and services in health, education, employment, safety, and business for economic and social development.

“We are mandated by the mayor to ensure equal access,” said Aly Kaba, executive director, D.C. Mayor’s Office on African Affairs. “African residents through their educational achievement and entrepreneurial drive contribute significantly to the economic and social vitality of our city.”

Advertisement

Kaba stressed that for generations the African diaspora has left an indelible mark on the cultural mosaic of Washington and is a testament to the diversity of the city.

“Let us not only honor the legacy of the past but also commit to fostering an environment of equity and understanding for all. Let’s make this month a call for action, a moment for dialogue and a celebration of the limitless potential in the Black community in all its diversity,” he said.

Kaba called recognizing Black History Month indispensable and borderless, with narratives forged by “resilience, strength and triumph.” On Feb. 21, he served as keynote speaker during a program entitled “The Diversity of the Black Experience,” hosted by the District of Columbia National Guard Military Equal Opportunity/Equal Employment Opportunity (MEO/EEO) office and D.C. Government Operations/D.C. National Guard (DCGO-DCNG).

Tenants within the D.C. Mayor’s Office on African Affairs (MOAA) include:

– Organize a variety of awareness campaigns to ensure the District’s African community has access to local services and resources.

Advertisement

– Award funding to African community-based organizations whose programs provide culturally and/or linguistically targeted services and resources to the District’s African residents and businesses.

– Support the Office of Human Rights (OHR) and other entities to implement The Language Access Act of 2004 (LAA) by supporting African residents language access needs through data collection, outreach, quality control, recruitment, and cross-cultural communications training.

– Promote awareness of and appreciation for the District’s diverse African community by organizing cultural symposiums, commemorations, and exhibits to explore African identity, celebrate heritage, and support community building.

“The Mayor’s Office on African Affairs promotes community engagement and opens up opportunities for collaboration and partnership,” said 1st Lt. Sherika A. Jenkins, State Equal Employment Manager, D.C. National Guard. “Having different stakeholders together brings diverse perspectives, informed decision-making, collaboration, ownership, risk mitigation, legitimacy, and adaptability.”

The program also included African dance performances by the Cultural Heritage Group, a West Africa Kola Nut Ceremony, educational displays, and a sampling of various cultural dishes provided by the TIS Foundation and the University of the District of Columbia Culinary Arts Program.

Advertisement

“This effort underlines the importance of staying connected to your heritage and that giving back helps bridge the gap on perceived differences,” said Jewel Douglas, Youth and Family Programs specialist, D.C. Government Operations-D.C. National Guard (DCGO-DCNG). “All of these groups and organizations are instrumental in providing our National Guard members an opportunity to immerse themselves in the Black experience.”

The program attended by uniformed service members and civilians emphasized dismantling monolithic thinking and diversity of the Black experience. The D.C. National Guard joins the Defense Department in recognizing the bravery and exceptional service of Black military and civilian personnel and celebrates the richness and diversity of their achievements during February and all year.

“Black history is American history, and we need to teach this consistently,” said Brig. Gen. Aaron R. Dean II, Adjutant General, D.C. National Guard. “There is no United States without recognizing these (collective) contributions—and that’s why we’re here today.”

Date Taken: 02.21.2024
Date Posted: 02.22.2024 08:54
Story ID: 464443
Location: WASHINGTON, DC, US

Web Views: 12
Downloads: 0

PUBLIC DOMAIN  

Advertisement





Source link

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Washington, D.C

OKC Transportation Representatives Prepare For D.C. Visit, Bringing Focus To Upcoming Projects

Published

on

OKC Transportation Representatives Prepare For D.C. Visit, Bringing Focus To Upcoming Projects


EMBARK Executive Director Jason Ferbrache will travel to Washington, D.C. on Friday to meet with Oklahoma’s congressional delegation and representatives from other federal agencies, including the Federal Railroad Administration.

Ferbrache gave a quick forecast for the meeting during his report at the Regional Transportation Authority meeting on Wednesday. 

The RTA is currently pushing multiple projects. The most significant would be a metro commuter rail from Edmond to Norman, which already has strong backing from its member cities. “We want to tell the story about all the good work that the RTA is accomplishing here locally,” Ferbrache said. “So, we want to brief them on some of the projects we’ve made progress on.”

Federal dollars for an eventual commuter rail would require a match at the local level. Former Governor Brad Henry, chair of the RTA, previously told News 9 that a ballot initiative for local funding could be brought before metro voters in late 2024 or early 2025. 

Advertisement

“We certainly want to plant the seed,” Ferbrache said when asked if he would discuss federal funding opportunities while in D.C. “We want to talk about the magnitude of the project and how we are working diligently to satisfy all the federal requirements early on so we can be eligible for funding in the future.”

During Wednesday’s meeting, updates were also shared on the RTA’s west and airport corridor projects. Ideas are still in the preliminary development phase, but feedback from a virtual town hall last month was shared with the board.

Consultants for the group said they are still exploring whether routes to the airport would be by light rail or bus. Presenters told the group some streets on the route might be too small to support the guideways needed for a light rail.

Expansions in that direction might have a slight overlap with current plans for MAPS 4 Bus Rapid Transit, which is separate from the RTA’s efforts. The group examined several different ideas for routes, with a discussion on maximizing connectivity between different transportation services.

A resolution, which would have expressed intent to reimburse member cities for land purchases for the eventual commuter rail project, was postponed to next month’s meeting with the expectation member city councils would have more time to review the language.

Advertisement

Future ambitions would make the Oklahoma City Santa Fe Transit Hub the focal point of transportation expansion. A spokesperson for EMBARK confirmed Oklahoma City would base its commuter rail station at that pre-existing location. Norman and Edmond are the other two member cities that would likely need to purchase land.





Source link

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending