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News / Health / Clark County Health

Clark County Jail gains naloxone vending machine

‘Naloxone can save lives,’ Public Health’s Dr. Melnick says

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 26, 2024, 6:07am

Clark County Jail Services and its partners have installed a naloxone vending machine in the jail’s public lobby.

This is the county’s fourth naloxone vending machine. Better known by its brand name Narcan, naloxone helps prevent opioid overdose by temporarily blocking the effects of opioids such as fentanyl, heroin, morphine and oxycodone.

“Clark County Jail Services wants to ensure anyone leaving the jail, as well as friends, family and community members, are easily able to procure naloxone to reduce death from opioid overdose,” Jail Services Director David Shook said in a Friday news release.

Shook said Jail Services is taking other steps to reduce opioid overdose deaths, including medical screenings for opioid use disorder at the time of booking; providing in-custody clinical services related to medications for opioid use disorder; and issuing naloxone for all corrections officers to carry on duty. Additionally, Jail Services is providing naloxone at time of release to anyone who receives opioid treatment while in jail or to anyone who requests it through the jail’s partnership with the Washington State Department of Health.

For more information on naloxone and preventing opioid overdose, go to: clark.wa.gov/public-health/overdose-prevention-and-response.

“Naloxone can save lives and should be freely available in as many places as possible. Anyone who uses opioids, has loved ones or friends who use opioids, or may find themselves in a position to save the life of someone overdosing on an opioid should carry naloxone,” Dr. Alan Melnick, director of Clark County Public Health, said Monday. “Naloxone is incredibly safe, for both those who are experiencing an overdose and those administering the drug. It has no effect on someone who has not taken opioids.”

The jail vending machine is the result of a collaboration with Southwest Washington Accountable Community of Health and Carelon Behavioral Health.

On average, 53 percent of the jail population experiences an opioid use disorder, compared with just 7 percent of the non-incarcerated population. Studies have also found the risk of death from a drug overdose within two weeks of release from a jail is 13 times higher than the general public, according to the news release.

The vending machine — which contains nasal naloxone, fentanyl test strips and information about treatment services — is in the jail lobby at 707 W. 13th St., Vancouver. Items are free. The lobby is open 8-11:45 a.m. and 12:45-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The new machine expands Southwest Washington Accountable Community of Health’s vending machine network, which includes five other locations across Clark, Klickitat and Skamania counties. The network is part of a broader initiative aimed at addressing substance-use disorder along with behavioral and physical health.