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Pilot Program Makes Cincinnati Health Centers 'Safe Places' For Addicts

Bill Rinehart
The Northside Health Center is one of several city facilities that are part of the "Safe Places Cincy" project.

In the wake of the opioid crisis, a pilot program in Cincinnati is designed to fill another gap in addiction treatment. In the Safe Places Cincy project, anyone seeking help for addiction can ask for help at a city health center and get a ride to one of three treatment programs.

Council Member Amy Murray says there is space at treatment facilities, and the pilot project is a way to connect people to them.

"If you're suffering from addiction and you're on the street in Downtown Cincinnati and you say 'today's the day. I want to go off of it today,' what do you do? Where do you go? There are some resources but we wanted to give another point of entry." Murray says the program could be expanded to include other organizations, but during the pilot project, it's just the city's health centers.

Director of Community Health Jennifer Mooney says the staff has been trained on the special needs of someone who's addicted. "We are compassionate, and we understand that people are very vulnerable. It takes a lot for someone to walk in and actually ask for help. There are a lot of different situations going on in that individual's life so we have to be compassionate. That's the first step."

Mooney says it's for anyone with substance addiction, not just for people addicted to opioids.

Health Commissioner Melba Moore says it's a way to build on existing assistance. "We're about increasing access for substance abuse disorder and getting people the treatment they deserve."

Interact for Health put up the money to pay for transportation from health centers to treatment facilities.