Vending machines are now operating as a new resource to help promote harm reduction and save lives at sites in Wenatchee and Moses Lake.
The North Central Accountable Community of Health, in association with the Central Washington Recovery Coalition and Beacon Health Options, have installed vending machines that distribute packets of Narcan naxolone nasal spray, which is used to help reverse the potentially lethal respiratory effects involved in an opioid overdose. The machines were placed on Nov. 5 in Wenatchee at the Alano Club (530 S. Wenatchee Ave.) and in Moses Lake at the Open Doors Sleeping Center (corner of Broadway Ave. and State Route 17). Omak’s Family Health Center is scheduled to receive the region’s third Narcan vending machine towards the end of 2022.
The FDA-approved Narcan packets are distributed from the machines free of charge as a way for people in need of the medication to obtain the packets anonymously for emergency preparedness without the need of going to a physician or pharmacy. Obtaining the packets is as simple as going to one of the sites and punching one of the distribution buttons on the machine, obtaining the medication without the need for any sign-ups or any concerns about stigmatization.
Beacon Health Options, a Boston-based organization that helps support behavioral health services in communities throughout the nation, provided the funding for the three vending machines ($5,000 each) as well as 1,800 packs of Narcan to supply the machines ($75 each).
“These are being made available to help anybody being threatened by an overdose,” says Joey Hunter, Recovery Coach Network coordinator at NCACH. “This is a way to support the advancement of harm reduction in our communities and to keep people alive in hopes that they can achieve recovery.”
Hunter says each of the machines distributed about 40 packets of the potentially life-saving medications during the first three weeks since the machines were placed in Wenatchee and Moses Lake.
“The feedback is positive about this among the people who are using the machines,” says Hunter. “They’re really grateful to have these in the community. I’m glad to have these available here and see how many people are actually using the machines.”