life and death at the evergreen center (aka a typical Thursday) b y B R E N D A N O R R A N G E , Harm R eduction Counselor
here is never a dull moment at the Evergreen Center. What started as a typical Thursday quickly turned into an adrenaline-fueled rescue mission for the staff of Project SAFE, our syringe exchange program (SEP) at the Evergreen Center. Shortly before noon, a SEP client came rushing into the exchange area out of breath and calling for help. His girlfriend was in the middle of an overdose, out in a car in front of the building. As the “Narcon Guy,” I was immediately summoned and quickly grabbed my Narcon kit and ran after the client. By the time I got to the car, his girlfriend had turned a frightening shade of blue. Her breathing was slow and labored and her pulse was light, but still there. While I was checking her breathing and pulse, I was also pulling up a dose of Narcon. I realized that time was not on our side in this battle, and quick thinking and action would be the only things that would save this girl’s life. I had a fellow staff member call 911 to get paramedics here as soon as possible to help. I administered the first dose. Cecil Sutton, a fellow exchange worker, helped to keep the girl’s breathing passage clear by pushing her forward in the front seat of the car. He was calling to her, looking for a response as a sign that the Narcon had taken effect. It had not. Her boyfriend was understandably nervous and paced quickly around the car. Cecil was still calmly
calling to her and keeping her in a safe position to avoid further asphyxiation. She was breathing, although it was still incredibly labored. I had already gotten the second dose of Narcon ready in case the first did not reverse the overdose. After about three minutes—and with little change in her condition—I administered the second dose into her shoulder area. As time continued to tick, color slowly returned to her face, but she was still not responding to any of our calls to her. By now we could hear the fire trucks blazing up the street. When they arrived, I immediately began explaining what was happening. They got out their oxygen tank, but by the time they got to the car, the girl had regained consciousness. Still groggy and confused from the heavy dose of opiates and the lack of oxygen to her brain, she struggled to understand what was happening. An ambulance arrived and began asking her questions while I explained to her boyfriend that he needed to get her to a hospital as the Narcon only lasts for about an hour, and that she could easily fall back into the overdose. He promised me he would, fully understanding the gravity of the situation. He gave me a hug and explained that the two of them are getting married soon and we had just saved his future wife’s life. After filling out some required paperwork in regard to this incident, there was a knock at my door. I opened it to a teary-eyed girl who looked familiar.
She hugged me and thanked me for reversing her overdose. She explained to me that she had been sober for six years, but her maintenance medication had been stolen, so she injected one bag of heroin. One bag. She also told me about her five year-old son and her wedding plans. I told her about Narcon and how it works. I asked if her boyfriend and she had 20 minutes to talk to me. They did, and I took the time to instruct both of them in how to administer Narcon. They are both on opiate maintenance programs, but being informed in how to reverse overdoses is important knowledge. A recent study indicated that 60% of people who have an overdose reversed with Narcon suffer a fatal overdose within six months after. That is a staggering and frightening statistic that motivates me to attempt to train anyone who has experienced an overdose. I had never met either of these individuals before this incident, but they knew that we could help with overdoses. They trusted us enough to rush here in their time of most desperate need. As the couple was leaving I thanked them. They looked at me funny and the man said, “You are the one we need to be thanking.” But the truth is, they trusted our staff and then followed up with us to make sure something like this never happens to them again. Our SEP attitude of never judging anyone and always being willing to help had once again worked to our advantage and saved a life. C
HIV and STIs BY TA M A R A E. H O L M E S
Itâ€™s no secret that connections exist between HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but researchers are pushing for more coordination to reduce the incidence of all such conditions. Two sessions at AIDS 2012 looked at the correlations between HIV and other STIs. One highlighted research showing that many people diagnosed with other STIs are often later diagnosed or concurrently diagnosed with HIV. In fact, according to the CDC, people infected with an STI are two to five times more likely to become infected with HIV after exposure to the virus than people who are not infected by another STI. The other session looked at the value of screening people diagnosed with any STIs for HIV and targeting prevention messages toward that group. The relationship between HIV and other STIs is complex because it is both biological and behavioral. Certain STIs, such as syphilis, herpes and Chancroid, create genital ulcers, which cause breaks in the lining of the genital tract. Those breaks can then become entry points for HIV. STIs such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea and Trichomoniasis can also create inflammation, which increases the concentration of cells in genital secretions that the virus can attach to. Not only does infection with these STIs make it easier to acquire HIV, but they also make it easier to transmit it. According to the CDC, studies have shown that people who are living with HIV/AIDS and also are infected with other STIs are more likely to transmit HIV through their genital secretions. Researchers at the AIDS 2012 sessions pointed out that similar behaviors can lead a person to acquire HIV and other STIs. For example, having sex without a condom, frequently changing sexual partners or having concurrent relationships--more than one sexual relationship at the same time--increases a personâ€™s risk of acquiring STI s, including HIV. So why is it important to understand the association between HIV and other STIs? STIs are a major health concern in the Black community. More than half of reported primary and secondary continued on next page >>
syphilis cases (those occurring at the earliest and most infectious period of the disease) occur among Black Americans. This means that Black Americans are particularly vulnerable to STIs simply because a higher percentage of people in the Black community are already living with STIs. It’s important to note that data could be skewed because different states have different reporting requirements for STIs. That means private physicians may not have to report specific STIs in some states, whereas public health centers--where many Black Americans get their care-must report data as part of program requirements. HIV-prevention messages should be targeted toward communities that have high levels of STI rates, conference researchers said. HIV testing can also be increased in such communities because people with other STIs are at an increased risk of acquiring HIV. This makes using condoms even more important for those who don’t know their partner’s HIV status. Treatment for STIs can decrease a person’s likelihood of transmitting HIV. People living with HIV/AIDS should also be careful not to become infected with other STIs. Some HIV-positive individuals forsake condoms when they have sex with other people with HIV. However, this leaves you vulnerable to other STIs, conference participants said, unless you and your partner have both tested negative for them. So what can you do to safeguard your health? Luckily, the same behaviors that keep you from acquiring HIV will keep you from acquiring other STIs. • Use condoms with anyone you don’t know to be STI-negative. • When you get tested for HIV, get tested for other STIs, too. • When you open a dialogue with a new partner about HIV, add other STIs to the conversation. • If you suspect that you have an STI, get tested and treated as soon as possible. Editor’s Note: Tamara E. Holmes is a freelance journalist who writes about health and wellness. Rapid HIV testing and screening for gonorrhea, syphilis and Chlamydia are available at Evergreen Health Services Monday – Friday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Tuesdays from 1 – 7 p.m.
I would love to win the lottery so that when I do “kick the bucket” my family members are well taken care of. I have a fear of drowning but would love to overcome that and learn how to swim. I would love to get remarried so that I have someone to help take care of me in my not-so-youthful years. My kids have already left me and relocated to another state! - Sheila Stephens One thing that I want to accomplish in my lifetime is to run a half-marathon. I’m saving the full marathon for when I’m reincarnated as someone that has natural athletic ability. - Gloria Kornowski It is on my bucket list to learn Spanish and speak it fluently. Está en mi lista de deseos de aprender español y lo hablan con fluidez. - Jamila Banks Seeing the Rangers win the Stanley Cup. - Sally Heron I want to go to space. I want to work on a film with Darren Aronofsky Keira Knightley - Brendan Orrange
1. Visit Italy 2. Cruise 3. Skydiving 4. Bungee jumping 5. Scuba diving/cage diving (with sharks) - Cord Stone 1. Visit Spain 2. Buy a RV and travel all over United States 3. Spend New Year’s Eve in NYC 4. Experience the underwater hotel room 5. Learn to play a guitar - Johanna Aponte
1. Travel to Italy 2. Go back to Ireland 3. Travel to Hawaii 4. Take a horticulture class 5. Work 4 days a week instead of 5 - Kate Gallivan 1. Visit every continent 2. Run a marathon 3. Finally, for real, actually learn Spanish 4. Sing in a band 5. Have an alpaca farm (they’re so cute!) - Stephanie Vroman
1. Space Tourism 2. Visit the North Pole to see the Auroras 3. Sail across the Atlantic Ocean 4. Go one day without forgetting something in my house and realizing it after I’m already in my car - Patrick Butler 1. Sail down the eastern seaboard. 2. Climb [insert name of mountain here]. 3. Hike the Appalachian Trail. 4. Go dog sledding. 5. Go to the final game of the World Cup. - Jacob Perello 1. Skydiving 2. Take a hot air balloon ride 3. Cliff diving or base jumping 4. Take a trip to Ireland 5. Run a half marathon - Ashlee Rudolph 1. See my daughters graduate college 2. Learn another language 3. Go on a safari 4. Buy a farm 5. Go scuba diving - Tiffany Macauley Learning how to drive a shift stick car. - Elisa Luciano
1. Visit all 58 US National Parks. So far, I have visited eight of them. I have to pick up the pace! 2. Walk the Appalachian Trail 3. Whitewater raft class IV and V rapids on the Arkansas River in Colorado 4. Backpack through Europe 5. Learn Italian and Mandarin Chinese - Kimberly Harding 1. Join a fight club 2. Drive an Aston Martin Vanquish 3. Visit Ibiza 4. Have a beer with Rick Jeanerette 5. Skydive - Jim Rautenstrauch 1. Go to Japan 2. Have a new car before I’m 30 3. Sky Diving 4. Go to a World Cup Soccer game 5. Go on a driving tour of all 50 states - Pratheep Sakas
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September Birthdays Andre’ Stokes – 9/9 Bridget McClain – 9/10 Corinne Henderson – 9/11 Kim Lombard – 9/15 Tom Place – 9/15 Dr. Gbadamosi – 9/16 Julie Vaughan – 9/17 Dana McKnight – 9/18 Jason Rein – 9/20 Shannon Bryant – 9/20 Jennifer DeMarsh – 9/22 Alexandria Clayborne – 9/25 Sheila Stephens – 9/25 Jorien Brock – 9/26 Alain Rodriguez – 9/29 Yakira Moreno – 9/30 Richardo Nazario – 9/30
September Anniversaries Tracy Eichelberger – 1 year Seth Girod – 1 year Jennifer DeMarsh – 2 years Lindsay Zasada – 2 years Shari Demarco – 4 years Dr. Gbadamosi – 7 years Keisha Leavy – 7years Susan Fiedler – 8 years Gary Williams – 14 years Kim Lombard – 20 years
Your Continued Dedication and Hard Work Are Noticed and Appreciated! – The Management Team
CONNECTIONS CONTRIBUTORS PUBLISHER/LAYOUT JOHN CAROCCI EDITOR KIMBERLY HARDING CONTRIBUTORS KATE GALLIVAN SHEILA MARCHESON, JOSHUA MCCLAIN BRENDAN ORRANGE
This Month: Jim Rautenstrauch 1. My middle name is Michael. 2. I’m an obsessed Sabres fan. 3. Contrary to popular belief, I am not Seth Rogan’s twin brother. 4. I own a seven month-old golden retriever puppy named Riley. 5. I have traveled to Hawaii and Alaska. 6. I do have giant feet (14 wide!) 7. I despise Phil Collins – it’s my mom’s fault. 8. My favorite restaurant is Left Bank. 9. I won a WSOP satellite poker tournament in Las Vegas. 10. I have been a best-man in four weddings… soon to be five.
Senior Director of Community Access Services Interview by Kimberly Harding
Josh, recently Alianza La na went through a name change. It is now known as Community Access Services. When did the name change go into eﬀect, and what was the reasoning behind this decision? A. Oﬃcially, the name change went into eﬀect in July. However, we’re s ll using the name Alianza La na un l September, when we’ll have a new logo and website design, a radio ad and bus shelter ads to publicly announce the new name. Q. What do you hope to achieve by changing Alianza La na to Community Access Services? A. The name change was mo vated by the need to communicate to the public in the areas we serve that our services are available to everyone, since our program area has expanded from just the West Side to include the East Side as well. The new name is also a bit more descrip ve of what we do and will allow our agency to evolve and grow as we seek to diversify our services, but s ll maintains our focus on facilita ng access to health and preven ve services for under-served communi es. Q. To whom will you be marke ng your services? Have you heard any feedback from the community yet? A. Our services are open to anyone, but are promoted primarily to adults and youth from communi es of color residing on the West
and East Sides of Buﬀalo. These are areas with dispropor onately high incidence of HIV and STIs and a large need for risk reduc on services and preven on educa on. When we’ve explained the ra onale for the name change to clients and community members, people tend to be very enthusias c and understanding of why the transi on was made. We’ve heard countless people say, “Oh, I never really knew what the old name meant anyway,” so we’re confident that the new name will be well-accepted as the word gets out. Q. You’ve been the Senior Director of Community Access Services (Alianza La na) for over a year. What has been the greatest challenge in your posi on, and your greatest success? Also, what did you do prior to becoming the Senior Director at Community Access Services? A. There’s definitely been a steep learning curve in terms of learning the ins-and-outs of the three grants that we manage here. Probably the greatest challenge has been learning to priori ze between a ton of diﬀerent demands on my me – managing personnel, repor ng to the State, supervising programs, etc—and keeping a lot of plates spinning at the same me. Fortunately, we have a phenomenal team of staﬀ and Peers and a responsive Management Team to help keep things running smoothly and to help work out glitches as they arise. Seeing new
staﬀ members come on board, get trained and then start to conduct services in a way that has a real impact on the lives of our clients is probably the most sa sfying part of my job so far. Prior to stepping in as Senior Director at Alianza La na, I worked as a Bilingual Case Manager on the fourth floor, then as a Medical Care Coordinator at Evergreen Medical Group for a short me. As much as I enjoy the challenges of the Director role at Community Access, I definitely miss providing direct services to clients as well. Q. What is your vision for the future of Community Access Services? A. Because we serve a diverse popula on with a broad array of needs, I hope that in the upcoming years Community Access Services can evolve into an agency that oﬀers a variety of services to promote the overall health and wellbeing of the communi es we serve. I an cipate that we will con nue to have a strong emphasis on HIV preven on, but also seek to address other health disparity issues such as diabetes, asthma and pulmonary disease, heart disease and other issues that dispropor onately aﬀect minority communi es. I hope that we can also round out our programs to oﬀer services in areas such as housing, job skills, and community development in order to contribute to the health of individuals and the stability of Buﬀalo’s neighborhoods on many diﬀerent levels.
by John Carocci