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Every day, hundreds of sick and injured patients walk into free and charitable clinics around the Tampa Bay area in need of a doctor.Many are suffering from chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Some patients were referred to the clinics by staff at hospitals where they landed after years of neglecting to care for treatable conditions.The clinics allow the patients to pay what they can, or nothing at all. They are staffed by doctors and nurses who volunteer their time. They survive off donations and small grants.Many of the patients have jobs but they are living paycheck to paycheck. None have health insurance, either because they do not qualify for Medicaid or can’t afford private coverage. For these patients, the clinics are often their only option for primary care.

Free NARCAN, Drug Disposal Kits Available As Overdose 911 Calls Increase In Duval

Narcan nasal spray is available for free in Jacksonville Beach.
Narcan nasal spray is available for free in Jacksonville Beach.

Duval County saw a 25% increase in overdose 911 calls from mid-March until now, year over year.

In response to the spike, the county is giving out free NARCAN, an overdose reversing drug that can save lives before paramedics arrive. NARCAN will be available in Jacksonville Beach at Beaches Recovery, 390 16th Ave S., Mondays and Thursdays from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., on a table outside the door. Call 904-400-9807 for questions or to schedule appointments, according to the city's Department of Emergency Preparedness Facebook page, Jax Ready.

Kathleen Roberts, executive director at Jacksonville’s , appeared on Monday’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross.

“With COVID, we have a lot of the contributing factors really piling on, including isolation for some, anxiety, depression, trauma  — so many different things. And then in addition to that, we have an increase in unemployment happening at an alarming rate. So, it's so many things kind of playing off of each other and compounding the situation,” she said.

National Prevention Week is May 10-16. 

“What are some things we can do to talk to our families, to talk to our kids, to bring this awareness and move away from the stigma?” she said.  “What are some signs, what are some talking points that we can help those that are dealing with some trauma, dealing with depression, dealing with different things that sometimes they go to substance use to help to deal with?”

Related: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

Usually, these questions would be explored and addressed through in-person community events, such as town halls and prescription drug take backs. However, due to the coronavirus crisis, they have shifted online, for the most part.

One such initiative that Roberts is involved with is The Gone for Good Campaign., creator of at-home drug disposal products, and the SAFE Project, a national nonprofit aiming to end the addiction epidemic, have teamed up to help rid the country of nearly 500,000 prescription and over-the-counter medications. 

“So now we're able to send out those drug ‘deactivation kits’ to people's homes,” Roberts said. 

And she said spring cleaning is the perfect opportunity to look at your medicine cabinet. 

“Many of us have unused medications that have expired or medications that we no longer need. And we don't want to just throw things in the toilet or the trash, because that's not good for our environment. So then what do we do about that? Well, this is a fantastic opportunity to deactivate the medication, and then be able to dispose of it safely in your trash. And what's nice is we're talking about opioids right now, but that's not the only substance that we're dealing with. We're seeing poly substance use being a serious situation. And with this deactivation kit, we can dispose of whatever medication we have. So it doesn't matter if it's a Tylenol, doesn't matter if it's antibiotics or an opioid. So it's a win-win for all of us.”

People can request a free Deterra Drug Deactivation Pouch here through May 16. Each pouch can deactivate up to 90 pills, 12 ounces of liquid, or up to 12 patches.

Heather Schatz can be reached at hschatz@wjct.org or on Twitter at @heatherschatz.

 

 

 

 

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