Gov. Charlie Baker was at The Champion Plan office in Brockton on June 28 to announce nearly $1 million in grants funding for 33 communities around the state to buy the overdose-reversing drug naloxone—commonly known as Narcan. Brockton is receiving up to $45,000.

Pictured above after the event are Gándara Center employees Ginny Mercure, director of peer recovery support services, Stairway to Recovery Program Director Efrain Baez, Gov. Baker, and Rebecca Muller, who heads Gándara’s grant writing efforts.

“Our police and fire departments are often first on the scene of an overdose and it is critical that they have access to the medication they need to save an individual’s life,” said Gov. Baker. “Our administration remains committed to providing resources to our communities to curb this public health epidemic, and to stemming the tide of overdose deaths in Massachusetts.”

Also speaking at the press conference were Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, and Recovery Coach Andrew Ledoux.

Mayor Carpenter pointed out that in many cases, those whose lives were saved after being administered naloxone in Brockton end up in The Champion Plan, a police-assisted recovery program that brings individuals suffering from a substance use disorder to the Brockton Police Department for help. From there, the Gándara Center provides recovery coaches to support people entering into the program. They are taken to the Champion Plan office, which serves as a safe haven as they wait to get into a treatment facility. Once a bed at a treatment center is available, Brewster Ambulance provides transportation to the treatment center. Recovery coaches are available for follow-up services and call clients at the treatment center within 72 hours to check in.

Baez noted that treatment facility placements typically take place within an hour or two—often in as little as 20 minutes—and that the program has always been able to find someone a treatment bed. “The program has a perfect score in terms of treatment center placements,” said Baez.

Gov. Baker, Mayor Carpenter, and Sec. Sudders all talked about the value of naloxone, which cities and towns have been buying from a state bulk purchasing program established three years ago. “Broad distribution and access to naloxone is one key strategy of the Commonwealth’s response to the opioid epidemic,” said Sec. Sudders. “The Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchasing Program was established to allow communities to purchase this life-saving medication at a discounted rate, and by making naloxone more accessible we can save more lives and provide opportunities for treatment and recovery.”

In a question-and-answer session, Gov. Baker explained the pivotal role recovery coaches play in helping recovering clients gain access to services, resources, and supports. He said his CARE act, which he put before the Legislature last November, would create a professional credential program for recovery coaches.

Andrew Ledoux, a recovery coach for the Gándara Center and the Champion Plan, spoke about his journey after being incarcerated, and then homeless two years ago. “My passion is to work with individuals to suffer,” he said. “I can confidently say that’s why I was put on this earth. It’s my purpose.”

Baker press conf

(L-R) Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter, Gov. Baker, Recovery Coach Andrew Ledoux, and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders

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Stairway to Recovery Program Director Efrain Baez and Sec. Sudders

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Keith Wilson, director of education at Brewster Ambulance, demonstrates the application of Narcan on Hal, the training mannequin.