Around New England

Massachusetts Health Officials Looking for Post-Drug-Use Monitoring Sites

December 26, 2019

Massachusetts public health officials are interested in finding organizations that can set up facilities to monitor people after illicit drug use.

They would be called “medical observation and monitoring services,” as The Boston Globe reported Tuesday. The facilities would feature a nursing staff and clinicians. They would be responsible for checking vital signs and administering oxygen and intravenous fluids, as well as providing naloxone, an overdose-reversing drug, if needed.

At the facilities, the drug users would be anonymous. They would have the opportunity to get treatment for wounds and infections and receive counseling, and they would receive help finding primary health care and treatment for their addiction.

However, the facilities would not be so-called “safe injection sites.” Those are illegal under federal law.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling called so-called safe injection sites “a terrible idea” and said he would prosecute anyone who operated one in an op-ed column in The Boston Globe on January 28.

With Lelling’s warning in mind, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has stated he would not support the development of any in the Bay State. On February 27 he said he wouldn’t waste time thinking about them, according to State House News Service. In March, Baker called them a “non-starter,” according to Boston.com.

At the “medical observation and monitoring services” centers, people would not be allowed to use illegal drugs inside of the facility, but they could come after they are finished using the drugs.

According to The Associated Press, the state’s Department of Public Health wants to start with three to five monitoring sites. Five to 10 people who used too much of an illegal drug could be served at a time at them. Proposed sites for these facilities have yet to be announced.

The sites have $5 million in funding in the state budget. They are a part of the state’s “harm reduction” plan to negate the negative impact of illegal drug use.

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