SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As we move into the holiday season, the giving of care packages is far from an abnormal occurrence, but the ones dropped off at the St. Francis House Thursday afternoon came along with something a bit out of the ordinary; fentanyl testing kits.
Melissa Dittberner is a lecturer at the University of South Dakota, and thanks to a grant from the state, she and her team put together 250 care packages.
“In our care package we have chapstick, hand sanitizers, a Narcan prescription, Band-Aids, a toothbrush — some handwarmers, Kleenex and Dispose RX to correctly dispose of prescriptions if need be,” said Dittberner.
Dittberner says the funding comes from a mini-grant that they had proposed. “This was our idea to help educate around the state about Narcan, overdose reversal and how we can help people and save lives in South Dakota,” she said.
Dittberner and a grad student were traveling around town today to pass out the packages to places such as The Banquet, the Bishop Dudley and the St. Francis House.
They also left 28 fentanyl testing kits at the Saint Francis House.
“The ability to have these rapid-response tests is imperative because we all know and have heard the tragic stories,” said Julie Becker, Executive Director of the St. Francis House. Becker says that 97% of the guests at the house have some form of addiction.
Becker says the St. Francis House will be holding education training with their case managers who will be distributing the tests as needed. “These are just tools for the guests to be able to have. This isn’t necessarily St. Francis House staff testing them.”
What these tests will allow those using them to do is make sure that something they are going to consume does not contain fentanyl. “This is if they’re in a bad situation,” says Becker. “This is a way for them to know if something is going on.”
“We have had many times when a guests has failed one of our [drug tests] and doesn’t understand that when he has borrowed something or bummed something from someone else — they don’t know what’s in it,” said Becker.
These tests can change that.
Becker says this is the first time the St. Francis House had had access to these sorts of kits. “This is amazing,” she said, “because having these in our home is imperative, and it also helps my employees learn the abilities of what’s going on as well.”