Nashua’s Safe Stations, which offered free help finding substance use treatment to anyone who showed up at local fire stations, will end its services July 1.
In a June 12 letter to city residents about the closure, Nashua Fire Chief Brian Rhodes cited reduced hours at the local arm of a statewide substance abuse services hub — known as “The Doorway” — as one of the main obstacles to staying open.
A message regarding the future of Nashua Fire Rescue’s Safe Station program from the Chief of Department. pic.twitter.com/EhtCqWoApJ
— Nashua Fire~Rescue (@nashuafire) June 12, 2020
In the past, the Safe Stations and Doorway programs worked together to connect people with treatment. But earlier this year, Nashua’s Doorway program relocated to a local hospital, Southern New Hampshire Health, and it is now only open on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
According to Rhodes, “a very high percentage of Safe Station participants access the program outside of the Hub’s hours of operations.” The Safe Stations program was designed to provide help to people at any time of day, but the Nashua fire station says it does not have a clear place to send people after 5 p.m.
Nashua city officials says they’re working with their public health division and Revive Recovery Center to potentially fill in the gap left by the Safe Stations closure.
In the meantime, however, Nashua Alderman Tom Lopez says his constituents are worried.
“There’s an intense concern from residents because we tend to see the crisis deeper than most,” said Lopez, who represents Nashua’s fourth ward. “Before the opioid crisis was even announced as such, we were seeing more and more people that we knew in the community passing away from substance use disorder issues and overdose."