A center which aims to reduce overdose deaths through an innovative, multidisciplinary approach and also targets known residents’ needs in the Franklinton community opened recently, thanks to efforts by the Franklin County commissioners.
The project is called Stop Addiction for Everyone Resource (SAFER) Station. The center will be initially open at 20 hours a week, Monday through Saturday, and its hours will grow as more staff are added. In addition to offering linkage to treatment services for those who suffer from drug addiction, the center also provides primary wound care, and support services that can link visitors to applications for social service benefits, a state ID, a birth certificate, and more.
“The dedication and desire to understand the community’s needs have helped develop a center that will offer resources that are beneficial to every resident in need of the services provided,’’ said President Erica Crawley. “Franklin County has had more than 800 overdose deaths – these are lives, not numbers. We want to help each person on their road to recovery.”
SAFER Station is located at 368 W. Park Ave. in Columbus, and had a private grand opening with neighborhood residents, businesses, and nonprofits. The soft opening allowed area residents to meet the center’s staff in a casual, welcoming environment.
“It is important for this community to know they can trust everyone at the SAFER Station and that we are there to be a good neighbor and resource,” commissioner John O’Grady said. “Those who come to this center will face no judgments, no requirements, they will only find staff who will listen and want to help.”
Franklin County’s Office of Justice Policy and Programs started the concept through a partnership with the city of Whitehall at the Whitehall Division of Fire where residents could walk in for help. However, given first responders’ already demanding workload, the program required more time than their schedules allowed and no longer takes walk-ins.
SAFER Station uses the same model on West Park Avenue with expanded wrap-around services to best support the client during and after linkage to treatment.
The center has a licensed social worker with extensive case management experience to handle support services, aiding clients after their release from a treatment center. SAFER Station also has community health workers and peer supporters who provide treatment screening, case management, recovery support and health education to clients.
“The case manager’s goal is to contact every client within 48 hours of their release from a treatment facility. We want them to know they have support,” said commissioner Kevin Boyce. “Addiction is a disease. The quicker that is widely recognized and those afflicted are treated, not jailed, the quicker we will truly see a difference in our communities.”