Lack of proper detox facilities hampering recovery in South Peninsula

Feb 1, 2021

Credit KBBI file photo

The Covid-19 pandemic has done more than just take the lives of nearly a half-a-million Americans, it’s also put pressures on other aspects of healthcare and recovery.
    The topic came up during a recent Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting after a quarterly report by South Peninsula Hospital’s Ryan Smith. Fritz Creek Assemblyman Willy Dunne, who is involved with the Southern Peninsula Opioid Task Force, asked about the lack of proper detox facilities, which are vital to recovery.
    “One of the things that we have identified as a barrier to entering treatment is the lack of medically supervised detox on the Lower Peninsula. And I know Central Peninsula Hospital got a detox facility going a few years ago that the assembly was involved in approving financing for it, but due to COVID, I've heard that is an overflow COVID facility now,” Dunne said. “And so that that's been identified as a gap, and we would really love to work with the hospital on developing ideas on how to encourage some more coordinated, medically supervised detox.”
    Smith acknowledged it was a problem.
    “Yeah. That is a big issue that is well-known to us. And we would like to come up with some initiative to deal with that,” Smith said.
    Assemblyman Brent Johnson of Clam Gulch pressed Smith for more information about what SPH can do to address the issue in this exchange.
    “Our hospital here in (Soldotna), from what I've heard, has a pretty successful alcohol and drug rehab center. And I was just curious if you, or the person who's under you, that's in charge of that in Homer, talks to them and swaps ideas and that sort of thing?” Johnson asked.
    “I think there has been some effort. Probably not enough in that vein,” Smith said. “I was in Soldotna, where I used to work, and was here when we expanded those services, Serenity House and others, and they do a fantastic job. I mean, it really is a great program up here. And yes, perhaps, maybe some of our initiatives have been a little bit stalled on the Southern end of the peninsula, given the circumstances of the last 11 months. But I hear you and, ... and know that there are things that we can do and should be doing to improve that on our end of the peninsula.”
    Smith did not offer any specifics.