Access to Narcan at Union Gospel Mission Saves a Life 

pills on a table

A South Dakota Department of Health COVID-19 initiative to review infectious disease precautions at congregate living facilities brought together Stephanie Hanson, BSN, RN, program manager for the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC), and Eric Weber, chief executive officer for the Union Gospel Mission (UGM) in Sioux Falls. The two never imagined their phone conversation would end up saving a life.  

Stephanie Hanson

Hanson shared, “During our conversation we addressed many topics related to COVID- 19, quarantine, and isolation. Because of my work with the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network (GPQIN) on opioid abuse, I asked about access to Naloxone and told him how to get some at the local pharmacy.” 

Naloxone or Narcan is a medication used for emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose. A standing order makes the medication available through the pharmacy without a prescription.  It is an effective solution for reversing the impact of an opioid overdose and legal for anyone to have and use in an emergency.  

Weber acted on Hanson’s recommendation.  

“The day that I got it (Narcan) I was thinking, ‘I can keep it for an emergency’. The next morning, I used Narcan for the first time ever.  

I saw a guy laying in our back alley that was non-responsive. I tried to get the gentleman up by rubbing his chest and yelling and saying, ‘Hey, guy, get up! Let’s go! You can’t sleep here.’ Then I found out he wasn’t sleeping. He was actually out. So, I got out the Narcan, called 911, and started to spray and pray! About two minutes, that seemed like forever, I had movement, and then the police department showed up and did what they do best. They took over and was able to get him to medical care.”  

I want to make sure my team can be trained and be able to notice what is going on in an overdose situation, what to do, and how to handle it!  I’m nothing special, but just doing what I’m called to do: love God, love people, and help as best I can!“ 

The Union Gospel Mission is the largest emergency shelter in the Sioux Falls area offering the following services.

  • Shelter and meals for an average of 125 men, women, and children each night
  • Resident addiction recovery program
  • Weekly distribution of an average of 900 food boxes

Additional resources on substance use disorder can be found on the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network website.