Please Know...

As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2021

You picked me up...

This past Sunday, June 6, 2021, I was standing at the corner of Kensington and Somerset handing out bananas, water and - most importantly - song sheets.  The conversations were wonderful as people stopped to chat.

I'm known as "Banana Man" in this area - a name given to me by a resident of the former 'Emerald City'[1] a few years ago when I started visiting that community with a case of bananas each time.  Rarely do I hear anyone call me Chris and so when it happened on this morning, my actual name caught my ear by surprise.

A young woman I wasn't yet recognizing and in a very conversational tone simply asked:

"Chris, do you still drive for RCA?"

"Yes, I do. How do you know?"

"You picked me up and took me there five months ago."

I did not need to ask her why she was standing in front of me now.  Her presence on that corner meant that she had drifted back into her substance use.

"You can go back today if you'd like."  I reminded her.

"I no longer have my private insurance so I can't." was her response.

I could not help but notice her black and blue eye, peeking out from behind the overgrown bangs of her strawberry blond hair as she spoke. 

"What happened to your eye?" I cautiously inquired.

She explained that she had been assaulted on the street by someone other than the young man standing right next to her this entire time we were speaking.  "He stopped them." She was quick to add.

I asked her for her name and where I had gone to get her.  She told me.  I picked her up at her home about an hour away from Kensington.  I recalled her name from that day I went to get her.

Having given out all but one of Steven's Bags, I told this young lady that I had something for her.  I reached into my car and pulled out the last bag.  As I gave it to her, I explained the story of Steven and how these bags came to be.  She and her male friend were very appreciative.  We said our goodbyes and off they went…


About five minutes before this happened, a much shorter version of the same story occurred.

"Chris, do you still drive for RCA?"

"Yes, I do. How do you know?"

"You picked me up and took me there."

"You can go back today if you'd like."  I reminded her.

"I am no longer on my parents'  insurance so I can't." was her response.


RCA is leading the way in modeling what detox/rehab health care should be in the 21st century.  They can do so because of the combination of high quality and visionary leadership and the funding made available through private insurance payments received for the services that they provide to people dealing with various versions of Substance Use Disorder.

Relapse is not a requirement on that long road to finally claiming victory over substance use but it does happen.  RCA did not fail these two women.  Something along their individual paths led them back to their substances.  In time, provided that overdose or the hazards of street-bound life don't claim them, they will navigate their way back to healing and health once again.

Let's look at that path to healing…

While under their parent's health insurance plans, upon reaching that moment of being 'ready' for detox, these two women would have made a phone call and had their insurance approved.  It was at that point when I would have received a notification to go to their address and bring them in for five-star high-quality treatment that begins before dope sickness can start to cause its problems.  And keep in mind, prior to meeting each one at their home addresses, I had never seen either one on the streets of Kensington or anywhere else.

Having aged out of their parents' insurance policies, these two young ladies are now reliant on the Medicaid health care system with all of its lethargic practices that lack dignity and respect.

Nearly 100% of the people on the streets of Kensington who are there due to active drug use within Substance Use Disorder are reliant on Medicaid funding to find their way back to healing.

I invite you to read this blog A Tale of Fraternal Twins And Simulated Hardwood Floors that provides a side by side comparison of private insurance vs. Medicaid.

The bottom line is this…

It's 'easier' for a street bound Medicaid-reliant patient with Substance Use Disorder to endure the hardships of life on the street than it is to seek the treatment through the only avenue that is CURRENTLY available to them.

Here's how 'Dakota' described this:

I asked her "Without meaning to seem like I'm pushing the idea on you, what keeps you from going to detox?"

She didn't need time to think about it… 

The long wait time, the rudeness of the staff, the need to get high before going in, the need to hide enough drug to inject during a quick trip to the bathroom while waiting to many hours for a bed, the strong possibility that at the end of those hours, being told that there are no beds available in the entire city and to come back the next day.

The final bottom line is this… (Because this blog is getting way tooooo long!)

Kensington Does Not Have an Opioid Crisis!


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