Safeguarding Neighborhoods and Saving Hundreds of Lives
At the beginning of 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that over 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021. 75,673 of those overdose deaths were from opioids, primarily fentanyl. Many of these overdoses are linked to a rise in street drugs laced with fentanyl. Unsuspecting users purchasing these drugs are unaware that their substances may be laced with fentanyl resulting in accidental overdose.
These alarming statistics prompted programs like Care Resource’s Special Purpose Outreach Team (The SPOT) in Broward County to mobilize resources to reduce opioid deaths. As the only Safe Services Program (SSP) authorized by the Broward County Commission, this mobile medical clinic will remain at the forefront of the battle against the opioid epidemic.
Throughout the year, The SPOT is in the community providing crucial supplies and resources like new syringes, Narcan, medical services, and linkage to specialized care. Since October 2021, The SPOT has completed more than 2,000 exchanges, collected over 100,000 used syringes, enrolled more than 300 community participants, and distributed over 7,000 doses of the opioid reversal drug Narcan (Naloxone). Since launching, participants of The SPOT have reported over 500 opioid reversals, which averages 31 lives saved each month.
According to Emelina Martinez, Safe Syringe Exchange Services Manager with Care Resource, “We have seen the positive impact The SPOT has made in our local community. Providing the local community with access to new syringes and life-saving drugs like Narcan is essential to reducing the spread of infectious disease and preventing accidental opioid overdose deaths. We’re delighted to have reached a milestone of collecting more than 100,000 used syringes.”
The SPOT mobile medical clinic provides a lifeline for many people struggling with substance use disorders. In Florida alone, emergency medical services responded to 106,891 overdoses in 2021. Individuals with substance-use disorders find it challenging to seek care because of the stigma associated with substance use. The SPOT provides a safe, compassionate, and tolerant environment for all participants, whether seeking treatment or not.
According to Dr. Thomas Smith, Director of Behavioral Health Services at Care Resource, “As the cost of living in South Florida continues to rise, it can be challenging for individuals and families struggling with substance-use disorders to afford treatment. That’s why The SPOT Broward was established to bring treatment, support, and resources directly to the community at no-cost.”
The SPOT Mobile Medical Clinic provides all services and resources at no cost to participants. Currently, federal law prohibits using federal funds to purchase sterile needles or syringes for harm reduction, making The SPOT ineligible for government funding. As a result, The SPOT relies on private funding from organizations like Care Resource, United Way, Gilead Focus, The Fishman Family Foundation, and individuals like Dr. Peter Cinelli to operate.
Emelina further explains, “Support and donations from our local community are essential to our operation. We would not be able to be out in the community five days a week without our donors. The more support we receive, the more lives we can save.”
The SPOT will continue to be a positive force in the local community and save more lives every day.