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.

Throughout this blog you are now seeing advertising. I need to provide this so as to keep going financially with this ministry. If you see something that is inappropriate to this site, please let me know - maybe get a screen shot of it for me. I do get credit for any "click" that you might make on any of the ads. If you're bored some night and want to help me raise some needed cash, visit my site and click away to your heart's content....

Friday, August 27, 2021

A Story Demanding to Be Told…

Some time ago on a block in Kensington, a man who I'd never met walked up to me and asked for a bottle of water, a banana, and a song sheet.  He spoke of his Christian Faith with humble boldness and growing up in a Christian home there in Kensington. 

Our conversation kept being put on pause as other people were coming up to me.  That wasn't deterring him from telling me his story.  On one occasion, someone came up to him and the two stepped away.  As he was leaving, he looked back at me and said he'd be right back because there was something he wanted to talk about.  A few minutes later, he was back and his story progressed…

He told me about the man on the corner "just over there" who overdosed earlier that day.  When this man standing before me saw him, he told me that he rushed over to the dying man, prayed and sought help from an "out of town outreach worker who was obviously scared of me being that I look like a gangsta from the hood."  The outreach worker and he did what they could to help the man.  "We prayed over him."

Something within me told me not to ask any clarifying questions.  Just let this man tell the story completely in his own words.  There was no mention of providing Narcan or calling an ambulance.  These are elements of a story such as this that you would expect to hear.

The man went on saying how concerned he was for the life of this man laying and dying on the sidewalk.  Obviously disturbed by what had happened, this man was noticeably shaken by the experience.  

"I felt really bad." He said as he seemed to be near tears.  This moment in itself was unique for me in that this man truly did fit the 'gangsta from the hood to be feared' stereotype. 

He continued and took the story further down a path I'd never traveled in any conversation with anyone in these past five years of visiting the streets of Kensington…

"I felt really bad… because I'm the corner dealer who sold him the dope that killed him."

My words were clumsy in this unexpected moment.  I tried to encourage him to look into his Faith and pray for guidance as to what he should do in light of how he was feeling about what happened…

He needed someone to know and he chose me.

James 5:16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

 A Story Demanding to Be Told… 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Yesterday's eviction of homeless people by the 'City of Brotherly Love' was not a solution to the issue of ongoing drug consumption by these people who carry the medically recognized diagnosis of Substance Use Disorder.

Outreach workers were doing their thing from various perspectives yesterday to minimize as much as possible, the psychological damage that was being done to these people who already (very often) bear scares of previous abuses.

My emphasis yesterday was to remind each person I met that they are worthy of far more than what law enforcement, sanitation workers, and visiting members of the press may suggest to them on that day through their words and actions.

To that end, I printed 100 and distributed about 90 of the following papers. I encouraged each person to know in their heart that they are worthy of better treatment and to memorize the following:

I am an inspirational human being
made in the image of God
and I am worthy of
dignity, honor, respect, and love.

If you've seen my 8.5x5.5 'song sheets' that I distribute each time I'm there, you know that this statement is on each sheet. On this day, the statement was the only thing on that side of the 8.5x11 paper. I encouraged each person to hold it up to any camera that may be pointing their direction or politely read it to anyone who may need the reminder.

On the other side of the paper was an article that I wrote about Medicaid and its poor handling of this crisis.


Sunday, August 15, 2021

It has been explained to me...

It has been explained to me by several people who live on the streets of Kensington that approximately 90% of all women who are living on the streets are reliant on engaging in prostitution to support their medicinal needs as patients with substance use disorder. 

It has been further explained that approximately 70% of all the men on the streets are completely reliant on those 90%. Meditate on that thought for a little bit.

What other officially recognized medical condition requires its patients to continue to engage in prostitution to support the purchase of the medicine AKA heroin that they need to keep from getting horrendously dope sick? 

Would it not be better for everyone involved if the system would provide prompt and dignity and respect-filled care immediately upon request of the patient for that care?

It is way way way beyond time for the people in positions of authority to review every aspect of the Medicaid system and come up with new procedures for meeting the needs of these medical patients with substance use disorder.

Once Again, The 'City of Brotherly Love' is Evicting Homeless Medicaid Reliant Substance Use Disorder Patients From Their Tent Homes.

One of my many privileges, today was to have a discussion with a city representative at the intersection of Somerset and Kensington Avenue.  I was sharing with this individual how I had given Narcan to a Delaware County resident on the steps that lead up to the elevated train line at that intersection.  I shared how this person was revived and taken by ambulance to Episcopal Hospital and within a few minutes told by the registered nurse to…

"Get out of my emergency room!"

Upon learning of this, I did report that registered nurse - who at one time had dedicated her career to the ideals of Hippocrates - to every administrative official I could identify.

As I was sharing this story with this city representative, I was fully aware that four Philadelphia Transit Police were within earshot of my conversation.

This one example of the atrocities committed against Substance Use Disorder patients on the streets of Kensington is just that... one example of the many hideousnesses forced upon these medical patients who deserve far better.

This coming Wednesday, August 18, 2021, every medical patient with Substance Use Disorder who is currently living in a tent on Lehigh Avenue or Kensington Avenue because they cannot get prompt dignity and respect-filled care is going to be evicted from their tent home.

Think about that...

Homeless people are going to be evicted by the City of Brotherly Love because that city, our city, does not grasp the medical nature of Substance Use Disorder.

This must change.

Nearly 100% of the people on the streets of Kensington who are dealing with Substance Use Disorders are reliant on Medicaid. The Medicaid system is severely broken and stunningly dysfunctional and biased against this population of medical patients.

This must be corrected.

Stop convicting medical patients for a medical condition that the medical community is not addressing in a medical way.

Identify every issue that is getting in the way of these medical patients from receiving prompt and dignity and respect-filled care and you will solve a tremendous amount of this overall issue.

You will also greatly reduce 'panhandling', theft and prostitution, and every other activity that goes into the personal funding of this medically recognized disorder that these human beings would rather not have.

The ripple effects are staggering.  They can be corrected perhaps not completely but definitely largely by plowing down Medicaid mountain and treating these human beings with prompt dignity and respect-filled care that they deserve and they want.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

"Wait Until Wednesday" IS NOT Harm Reduction!

As I was standing at the intersection of Somerset and Ruth Streets today (Sunday 8/8/21), a Substance Use Disorder patient who would like nothing more than to get her life back in order told me that she's had an initial meeting this past Friday with an official city-sanctioned outreach organization commissioned to assist people with getting into detox.  Their response was

"Wait until Wednesday."

"Wait Until Wednesday" IS NOT Harm Reduction!

Friday to Wednesday = Five Days…

While actual numbers are hard to provide with exactitude[1], for the sake of this discussion, that's…

80 units of 'heroin' assuming 16 units (one bundle) per day + 'works' (the fresh needles etc. that make injections somewhat safer) 

Cost of the above = $100 to $120 per day.

During these five days, any individual unit of this 'heroin' could end the life of this person who has gone to this official city-sanctioned outreach organization commissioned to assist people with getting into detox.

"Wait Until Wednesday" IS NOT Harm Reduction!

At $120 per day and $30 per 'date' that's 4 acts of prostitution per 24 hour period over these five days: 20 'dates'.  If the person has other 'drugs of choice' add an additional unknown number of dates to cover those expenses.  Add another 'date' or two per day to cover the costs of cigarettes, random daily expenses, and food (food is last on the list of priorities). 

"Wait Until Wednesday" IS NOT Harm Reduction!

During these five days, any 'date' could end with physical assault or rape or at knifepoint, gunpoint, or the murder of this person who has gone to this official city-sanctioned outreach organization commissioned to assist people with getting into detox.

"Wait Until Wednesday" IS NOT Harm Reduction!

During these five days, if this person is picked up by the police and charged with prostitution, there's a whole other avenue of nightmare for this person who has gone to this official city-sanctioned outreach organization commissioned to assist people with getting into detox.

"Wait Until Wednesday" IS NOT Harm Reduction!

I could go on and on about all of the hazards of not providing prompt, dignity, and respect filled care on that Friday to any person who has gone to this official city-sanctioned outreach organization commissioned to assist people with getting into detox.

Suffice it to say that

"Wait Until Wednesday" IS NOT Harm Reduction!

[1] The numbers presented here may be way under but probably not much over actual numbers.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Nearly 100% of the people on the streets of Kensington are reliant on Medicaid for the financial coverage of their healthcare which includes detox/rehab services.

Therefore, it must be said that this 'opioid crisis' is fueled in part by a crisis of health care provision as provided by processes within the Medicaid system of health care.  If this were not so, there would be a higher representative sample of Substance Use Disorder patients on these streets who are not getting detox/rehab and who do have private insurance.

Here is one among many actual accounts of a Substance Use Disorder patient trying to get help within the Medicaid system:

I have personally been to several crisis centers in Philadelphia.  A few months ago, I went to one and sat for about 13 hours in a waiting room so so sick shaking and sweating and vomiting everywhere and all for them to come out and tell me that there were no beds and said to come back the next day to try again.  

Mind you I was very very sick and when they told me that, I asked them what should I do as I was laying on their bathroom floor vomiting everywhere and it looked like someone had sprayed a hose on me because I was dripping wet.  My clothes were soaked and I was flopping on the floor like a fish out of water.  

The doctor said to me "I don't know what to do."  She said she cannot give me anything because I am not admitted and there are no beds.  So they asked me where would I like to go to because they will call a cab for me.  As I was waiting for the cab, security and a nurse came outside to me and asked me what I was doing and I said "You told me you are calling a cab."  The nurse said, "We did not call one and you have to get off of the property!" 

Mind you I had no money and I was so sick so I ended up walking to the EL.  The SEPTA personnel told me I cannot go through without money and I told them that I just came from the hospital.  I showed them paperwork and they still said "No" so I ended up jumping the train and the SEPTA personnel hit the alarm! 

So thank God the train came before any cops got there so I was fine.  As I was on the train I dropped to the floor and had a seizure.  When I woke up people were standing around me and they were waiting for the ambulance but I jumped up and said no and got back on the next train and got off at Somerset station and had to find a way to get well... 

My experience that day with the crisis center made me so sick to my stomach thinking that I really wanted to get clean and I really wanted help and nobody helped.

It does not need to be this way. 

The world of private insurance coverage provides the example of how this system can be and should be for the people on the streets.  With private insurance, a person can decide that they have hit that point of being ready for detox.  They call an 800 number and have their insurance cleared.  They make arrangements for any co-pay that there may be and schedule their transportation courtesy of the detox/rehab facility.  It is possible to be in that place before dope sickness or other symptoms of withdrawal begin to take hold.

I would urge the powers that be within our city at all levels and aspects of outreach to look at how the Medicaid system can be brought more in line with its private insurance counterpart.  Doing so will save lives and greatly reduce the 'opioid crisis' as we know it.

For further reading, I invite you to my blog series that looks at this issue in more depth.

Thank you for reading.

Chris Battin