WINDHAM — Recent controversy over a mobile clinic on the mountaintop has caused Greener Pathways to increase their education efforts about the service.
Greener Pathways Assistant Program Director Carl Quinn wrote a letter to Windham residents about the services the mobile clinic offers to communities after concern arose earlier this month that the clinic would increase, rather than decrease, the drug problems in the area.
“Over the last several days, there has been some misinformation circulated about our Greener Pathways Mobile RV Clinic and I’d like to take the opportunity to correct some of this misinformation circulating in your community,” Quinn wrote in the letter which was posted on Greener Pathways’ Facebook page. “Our mobile clinic looks to serve the people and the community of Windham that might not have resources or transportation to get to a traditional clinic based setting. Meeting people where they live instead of forcing them to go somewhere else for services is removing a barrier to people getting the help they need.”
In his letter, Quinn addressed concerns about the clinic’s distribution of Narcan. “We do offer Narcan in our mobile clinic to adults only and only to those that are asking for it and willing to participate in the mandatory training before they can receive a kit,” Quinn wrote. “State Health Department guidelines do not allow us to just randomly hand out Narcan. Every kit given is tracked and the recipient must provide their contact information before receiving the training and receiving the kit. All training and distribution of the kits is done inside the RV for the privacy of the individuals we serve.”
The RV is not being used as a Safe Injection Facility, Quinn wrote.
“Safe Injection Sites, for the most part, are outlawed by the federal government although some states have begun the process for approval,” Quinn wrote. “We do not offer this in our RV.”
The clinic also offers medication assisted treatment [Buprenorphine]; free Hepatitis C; HIV and STI screenings; free condoms and Plan B; access to clean needles/harm reduction supplies; food and care bags which include items such as water, granola bars, chapstick and a blanket; and assistance getting health insurance, according to the website.
The mobile clinic is about a month old, Greener Pathways Director Lori Torgersen said.
Greener Pathways partners with a nurse practitioner from Greene County, Torgersen said.
The RV is also staffed with a mobile clinician and Certified Recovery Peer Advocates, who use their experiences with addiction to help others, Torgersen said.
“Our Greener Pathways program is staffed by trained, committed, passionate, non-judgmental people who are ready, willing and able to meet people of our communities where they are, who are seeking help for their addiction or just to make a connection to a program that will work with them when they are ready,” Quinn wrote. “Our services are confidential and stigma-free as we know stigma surrounding people getting help leads to people not seeking treatment and possibly dying from a disease that is completely treatable.”
“The idea is that we meet people where they’re at — literally and figuratively — and help them take steps to recovery,” Torgersen said.
The clinic makes regular stops in Windham, visiting Higher Grounds every second and fourth Monday of the month from 1-4 p.m., according to greenerpathways.org.
Another regular stop is the Community Action parking lot in Catskill on the first and third Monday of the month from 1-4 p.m., according to the website.
Greener Pathways is working to get the RV to Prattsville, Greenville, Cairo, Athens and other towns, Quinn wrote.
The RV also serves Columbia County, Quinn wrote.
“[The RV] has been at town halls, fire departments, Columbia-Greene Community College and other businesses,” Quinn wrote. “Our goal is to reach the unmet need of the population that is in need of our services as quickly as possible when the need arises.”
The weekend before the RV traveled to Windham, Greene County had nine overdoses, Quinn wrote.
“People are dying in record numbers all across our country and we need to respond quickly when that happens,” Quinn wrote.
Greener Pathways receives funding from the state Office of Addiction Services and Supports, Torgersen said.
“We get the funding because we [Greene County] have one of the highest [drug-related] death rates in the state,” Torgersen said. “This is about reaching out to the people who are here and providing help.”