San Francisco to launch program to combat opioid overdose deaths at SRO hotels

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Mayor London Breed is launching a new plan to save lives from drug overdoses in San Francisco. 
It's designed to make Narcan, the opioid overdose reversal drug more readily available starting at the end of this year. 

The mayor tells KTVU the plan is about not giving up on those struggling with drug addiction. 
Breed wants them at SRO's, single room occupancy -residential hotels, which often house the city's most vulnerable.   

"Sadly, we know that over 30 percent of the overdose deaths that .have occurred in San Francisco have occurred in our SRO's," said Mayor Breed. 

The plan would train staff and tenants at SRO's on how to use Narcan nasal spray to save lives. 
A resident at Cambridge Hotel in the Tenderloin said she wants to be trained.

"It's sad to step outside your door everyday and to see all the despair," said Kari Della-Rocco, an SRO tenant.   

Jay Hopkins also lives at the Cambridge on Ellis Street. 

He says he and his wife were saved by Narcan after overdosing. 
"I'm so thanksful.  If weren't for Narcan, I don't know if my wife would be here," said Hopkins. 
Thomas Plagemann said he works the front desk at six different SRO hotels. He says having Narcan readily available is long overdue,"It's a chance to buy time for them to get well, get clean and sober." 

According to the mayor's office, deaths from fentanyl, a potent synthetic pain reliever  has been on the rise . 
In 2017, there were 36 deaths,  In 2018, there were 89 deaths, more than doubled the year before. .
In the first quarter of this year, there have been already 39 fentanyl overdose deaths. 

Janet Ector is manager at Glide's harm reduction outreach program which offers access to syringes and Narcan. 

She said the mayor's plan is an important step in helping people into treatment,"If we don't save that life, that person will never have that opportunity to change."   

Mayor Breed said this program will work in conjunction with making more beds in treatment facilities available,"We have to be prepared to meet people where they are.  When people say they need help, we need to get them into treatment right away." 

The mayor's office says the Narcan and training will be paid for by a two-year state grant with $350,000 in funding the first year.

Mayor Breed says people can not be compelled into treatment, but that Narcan gives them another chance at life.