‘Infancy’ — Officials still gathering data to determine where safe consumption sites can be located

An Insite "supervised injection site" in Vancouver, B.C. (Image: Seattle.gov)

An Insite “supervised injection site” in Vancouver, B.C. (Image: Seattle.gov)

At the end of January, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced they were moving forward with all of the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force recommendations to battle the heroin epidemic at a local level, including launching two safe consumption sites.

Officials are currently gathering data and information and meeting with communities to determine where the two sites, one slated for Seattle and one for greater King County, should be located.

Brad Finegood, assistant division director at King County Behavioral Health and Recovery Division, told CHS the process is in its “infancy.”

“There are so many things to undertake in an effort like this where A) there’s none in the U.S. and B) there’s so many community groups to discuss it with,” Finegood said. Continue reading

After 71 years, Group Health marks Kaiser Permanente change at Capitol Hill campus

An experiment in health care born out of the labor and social movements of the pre-World War II Pacific Northwest transitioned to a larger, better-resourced future Monday morning at the site on Capitol Hill of its first hospital. Bathed in the blue light of thousands of LED lights, the new signs and a new system of health care were introduced this morning at the 15th Ave campus where Group Health first put the old St. Luke’s Hospital to use before creating its own Capitol Hill facility.

“We are honored to care for even more Washingtonians and their families,” Susan Mullaney, president of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington said. “Beginning today, Washingtonians can access Kaiser Permanente’s high-quality care and coverage across the state.” Continue reading

2016 Orlando nightclub attack, FDA rules spur ‘Bad Blood’ talk at Gay City

On June 12, 2016, a gunman attacked Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and wounding at least 53. The LGBTQ community rallied to donate blood to the survivors, but blood centers turned away gay and bisexual men because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration bans some of them from donating. The FDA first enacted a lifetime ban in 1985 to reduce the risk of HIV transmission. The restrictions were recently changed so that men who haven’t had sexual contact with another man in the past 12 months can donate blood.

The nightclub attack and FDA’s rules on blood donations are at the center of a public conversation at Capitol Hill’s Gay City on Thursday.

Bad Blood? A Conversation about the FDA Ban on Gay Blood

Dr. James P. AuBuchon, president and CEO of Bloodworks Northwest, will participate in a panel discussion about blood donation by gay and bisexual men called “Bad Blood? A Conversation about the FDA Ban on Gay Blood Donation.” Continue reading

Seattle, county move forward in fight against heroin deaths

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine are moving forward with all eight of the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force’s recommendations to battle the region’s deadly epidemic.

“Opioid addiction is killing people in our community, sparing no age, race, sexual identity, income level or neighborhood,” Constantine said last week. “The experts we brought together have provided us with the battle plan we need to defeat this epidemic — a plan to save lives, to make it easier for people to get the help they need, to prevent the devastating harm that addiction causes. Unless we are willing to let this suffering continue, we have an obligation to turn their plan into action.”

The nearly 40 experts from public health, criminal justice, hospitals, schools and treatment providers and researchers convened in March 2016 and released a report and recommendations in September. Continue reading

County health officials sign off on safe consumption sites — now, where to put them?

A mock safe consumption site came to Cal Anderson in 2016 (Image: CHS)

A mock safe consumption site came to Cal Anderson in 2016 (Image: CHS)

The locations are far from final and another round of official approval lies ahead but the creation of a safe consumption site pilot in King County — possibly the first such program in the nation — moved ahead Thursday as the Board of Health unanimously approved recommendations from a task force assembled to stem the tide of opioid addiction and deaths.

Thursday’s 12-0 vote paves the way for the creation of two safe injection sites somewhere in King County. Officials are quick to add that no candidate sites have yet been made public. That important and crucial detail will fall to the executive branch in King County and Seattle as Dow Constantine and Mayor Ed Murray are now on the clock to present plans to make the sites reality. Continue reading

Why you might want to sign up for health care during Capitol Hill Art Walk

With Donald Trump and the Republicans calling for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, some might be wondering if the time is now to sign up for health insurance. The simple answer is, yes, sign up tonight, according to Tracy Anderson, of WithinReach, a nonprofit that works to connect people and families to services and organizations to help them be healthy. It’s probably not the first avenue you might think of for getting started but Thursday night’s Capitol Hill Art Walk can help.

“We can’t predict what’s going to happen,” Anderson said about potential changes, but those enrolled for 2017 will be on a contract with their insurance providers for the year. Continue reading

Mumps case confirmed at E Cherry’s Nova High School

front-mann-0913-1024x766Health officials have confirmed one mumps case at Nova High School in the Central District.

The Public Health Department of Seattle & King County announced last week that a student was diagnosed with the illness. No other cases have been confirmed in Seattle Public Schools.

According to a the joint announcement from Seattle Public Schools and King County Health, officials believe the case is linked to an ongoing mumps outbreak in the Auburn School District. Seattle Public Schools is monitoring the situation with health officials. Continue reading

Across from Capitol Hill Station, Zoom+Care plans second Broadway clinic

Considering Zoom+Care clinics don’t accept Tricare, Medicaid or Medicare — they’ve been accused of focusing on focusing care on young and healthy patients — it makes sense the company would open a second Capitol Hill location. But this new location will also draw patients from a wider range thanks to proximity to Capitol Hill Station.

The company, which provides urgent, primary and specialist care, has submitted a plan to the city of Seattle to take over empty space in the new construction of the Hollywood Lofts building at 127 Broadway E, turning it into a clinic with four universal care rooms, a support room, and a pharmacy lab. Zoom officials told CHS they would be in touch last week but haven’t provided additional information on a second planned clinic on Broadway. Continue reading

Born of a much-loved Capitol Hill grocery, Rainbow Natural Remedies marks 20 years of business on 15th Ave E

For those trying to cure a cold or reduce stress Rainbow Natural Remedies’ 20th-anniversary celebration might be their cup of tea. This weekend, owners Ross and Patricia Kling are giving Rainbow patrons free samples, demonstrations, readings and raffles.

While this might be the Rainbow Natural Remedies 20th birthday, its history stretches back even further to when the Klings first opened Rainbow Grocery in the 1980s, making it one of Seattle’s first natural food markets.

In 1996, the couple was presented with the opportunity to do more.

“At that time customers were coming in and asking our grocery stockers important health questions,” Ross Kling said. “And the stockers didn’t have the knowledge and the pace of the grocery store was such that it wasn’t conducive to having that kind of conversation.” Continue reading

Heroin addiction task force recommends Seattle open safe consumption sites

"Ghost" behind QFC had just purchased and cooked up $10 worth of heroin (Image: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

“Ghost” behind QFC had just purchased and cooked up $10 worth of heroin (Image: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

Momentum is building in Seattle to open a space where heroin addicts can use their own drugs under medical supervision at so-called safe consumption sites.

A task force of opiate addiction experts, public officials, law enforcement officials, and former addicts released a 99-page report Thursday outlining eight recommendations on what the city and region should do to tackle its heroin epidemic. Among those is opening two “community health engagement locations” — one in Seattle and one in greater King County.

“I believe we should have these sites,” said Mayor Ed Murray, who will be visiting safe consumption sites in Vancouver, BC this week. There is currently no operating safe consumption site in the U.S. and task force members acknowledged there would be legal challenges to overcome. Continue reading