A SAFE BET –  

January 23, 2021 – Services include: clean needle exchange, wound care, substance abuse rehabilitation, and doses of naloxone, which reverses opioid overdoses. Linkage to Action will also provide referrals for housing, mental health and other medical care, and transportation when the van goes into the field next month.

These connections are what Elizabeth Adelman, a health district communicable disease supervisor, calls “warm handoffs.”

Data will inform where the van is most needed, including city, flood control tunnel and desert homeless encampments, plus rural Clark County and other areas where overdoses spike.

Adelman said she hopes that word will get out as the van gets into the community and that the team will be able to follow overdose hot spots in real time.

Program staffer Jenny Gratzke said abstinence from substance use is not required — she will see people who are ready to quit and those who aren’t quite there yet but who at least want to lessen the risks of drug use.  “We’re trying to break down some of the stigma or barriers people have in getting into care,” she said.

Gratzke said even the branded “L2A” on handed-out swag is purposeful and practical: hand sanitizer and masks as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, lip balm and water bottles. Water isn’t just for hydration but can be used to rinse out syringes, she noted.

The van is outfitted with a blood draw chair for disease testing ­— HIV, hepatitis C, sexually transmitted infections ­— and three cubby-sized rooms with soundproof curtains for private consultations, although the unit will probably only serve one person at a time for now to maintain physical distancing. The program is funded by $8 million in federal funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

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