The true cost of addiction

The Safe Stations program is raising funds to combat the opioid crisis locally

NASHUA – The Safe Stations program has shown it takes a community to combat the opioid crisis, but such an effort requires funding, and the third First Responders Breakfast will both benefit the program and pay tribute to those on the frontlines fighting this epidemic.

The initiative launched on Nov. 17, 2016 and has resulted in approximately 2,600 addicts walking through city fire station doors, looking to take their first step on their journey to recovery. President and CEO of each Partnership for Successful Living Peter Kelleher said since 2016, they have seen a 23 percent reduction in fatal overdoses and a 13 percent reduction in non-fatal overdoses. Statistics relative to what is being seen so far in the new year will be unveiled at the breakfast, which is set for 7-9 a.m. Feb. 14 at Event Center at Courtyard by Marriott in Nashua. It is presented by Harbor Homes and Keystone Hall.

“To keep the Safe Station program going on a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week basis is a very significant effort,” Kelleher said.

This breakfast is the only public effort through which officials try to gather support from the community in a visible way, in which all the partners are together linking efforts to get that support for the program. Each partner in this effort also receives a text message alert in real time, letting them know each time someone enters a Safe Station looking for help. Whether it’s 3 p.m. or 3 a.m., Kelleher’s phone will go off, alerting him of another addict in need of some help. From there, those seeking help will be directed down one of a number of different avenues whether that be residential treatment, intensive outpatient, medication assisted treatment or something else.

“Right now, we’re serving about 300 people who are on medication assisted treatment and we’re expanding that in the next year to include a specific program for women who are pregnant or parenting, and that’s going to be at Keystone Hall,” Kelleher said. “It’s actually been funded. We’re just now bringing staff on board to operate the program.”

However, relative to the breakfast, American Medical Response Regional Director Chris Stawasz will receive a special honor for his continued work and support with Safe Stations. Kelleher said Stawasz is a critical link in both the Nashua and Manchester programs, which allows them to gather tremendous comparative data.

He said Stawasz has also been a critical link from day one that brought both people and a plan together. He said Stawasz was able to get a waiver from the state officials that regulate ambulance and services so that the ambulances could go to the fire stations.

Harbor Homes Director of Integrated Care and Population Health Melbourne Moran said to have a for-profit company involved in providing these services to the community at no charge, while being a link between the nonprofit and the local government, has just been extraordinary. To see this type of private-public relationship evolve to a shared community collaboration is satisfying.

“It’s very rare that you see those three, nonprofits, for-profits and government, working so succinctly together and he’s been that centerpiece,” Moran said.

In echoing his thoughts, Mary Tamposi of Harbor Homes said Stawasz is a father, husband and all around good member of the community. She said he is very passionate about the program and what it is doing.

“I really believe that if we can keep this going that we will achieve results that are greater than what anybody expects at this point,” Kelleher said.

However, money needs to be raised in order to keep the program operating throughout the year. Tamposi said this breakfast is their staple event that happens each year to try to bring in those much needed funds.

People can show their support in a number of ways whether that be sponsorships, tickets or a table and more. Additionally, if people are unable to attend the breakfast, they can still make donations if they choose. For more information relative to supporting the program, people can contact Stephanie Tully at 603-882-3616 or email s.tully@nhpartnership.org.