Blanchet House passes out Narcan to guests during lunch service

Published: May. 3, 2023 at 5:48 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - With opioid overdoses on the rise, Blanchet House is putting lifesaving tools in their guests’ hands.

“Time is precious when something like that is happening,” said Jon Seibert, the Director of Programs at Blanchet House. “It needs to be a quick response.”

He said opioid overdoses seem to happen in waves, but their staff can’t always be there to step in.

“I responded to one right across the street that was a bit unusual and after that we saw five more incidents in that same week. So, we started to do a reach out to get more supply on site,” he said.

At the end of March, Portland Police said they responded to 11 overdoses in 24 hours, using Narcan on six of those people to save their lives.

In some cases, Seibert said more than one dose is necessary to revive someone and the cost of each dose was adding up before they partnered with Multnomah County’s Harm Reduction Program. It’s important to note that administering Narcan will not harm someone if they aren’t having an opioid overdose.

“With the different mixtures that are on the street right now with fentanyl, with tranq, with different things, bringing multiple doses is needed,” he said. “I think that was one of the reasons why we started reaching out also to all these different agencies. Right now, through the supplier that we were using it was $92 per box so that’s $46 per dose. If you’re having to bring four doses to a situation to save someone, that’s a lot of money. It’s not comparable to what saving a life is, saving a life is obviously worth more than that... But with that initial response, making sure there’s not a financial barrier for us, that we can make it happen.”

With that county partnership, they’re now passing out Narcan to their guests, who Seibert says are often first responders to an overdose.

“That first person on the scene needs to have something there to make sure that person is not going to OD,” Seibert said.

Hundreds of doses have already been passed out during their Wednesday lunch service, in hopes of giving people a second chance at life.

“We have volunteers that have been saved by naloxone, we have staff that has been saved by naloxone, we have regular guests who come back after being saved by naloxone, you know, these aren’t faceless individuals. These are people who are suffering who deserve a second chance and a lot of them are able to build after that,” Seibert said.

Gregory Simms is a guest at Blanchet House who’s grateful they’re passing out Narcan because he sees the impacts of opioids firsthand.

“I’m all over the city and I’m seeing people smoking heroin on the MAX, I see it on the streets, I see people passed out on the MAX, on busses. And this, if this can save one life, it’s way worth it,” Simms said. “This is a really key thing for folks like the Blanchet House to make a difference.”