4/17/23: Managing overdose spikes

Monday, April 17, 2023

High 37°/Low 33° Rain and snow

As Kalamazoo deals with a spike in drug overdoses, two groups scramble to provide antidotes. Also: Kalamazoo has a new free clinic opening today. And the future of three downtown buildings is called into question.

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Free medications to combat overdoses

Two nonprofit organizations in Kalamazoo teamed up over the weekend to combat a recent spike in drug overdoses. Late last week, at least six people died from drug overdoses in a 24 hour period. At least another 18 people overdosed and survived. Officials say it’s likely the drugs they were using were mixed with fentanyl. That prompted the groups HOPE thru Navigation and COPE Network to distribute doses of an anti-overdose medication on Saturday.

The two groups distributed overdose kits outside the North Pole Party Store in Kalamazoo’s Northside neighborhood. The kits contained fentanyl test strips as well as naloxone nasal spray, which can reverse an overdose of opioid drugs. The groups also educated people on how to use the kits. “We’re in the neighborhoods where the vast majority of the overdoses occurred, really trying to intentionally reach out to people that are in active addiction or know someone that is in active addiction,” said Gwendolyn Hooker, the founder of nonprofit HOPE thru Navigation. She said the group plans similar events in other neighborhoods this week. [WOOD]

Free clinic opens its doors today

With the opening of the Helping Hands Wellness Center today, Kalamazoo gains its first freestanding, free health clinic in over a decade. The clinic, which has been in the works for years, held a grand opening over the weekend. But today marks its first day of operation at 310 N. Rose St. All the services at Helping Hands will be completely free to its patients. The goal is provide at-risk and uninsured people with access to acute and holistic health care.

The effort to set up the clinic was launched in part by Glyn Hawkins, who is also an officer with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety. He told MLive that his work as an officer convinced him of the need for the clinic. “I see trauma in different ways, every day, on every call,” he said. The clinic is entirely grant funded, and Hawkins said its operations are already paid for for the next six years. Helping Hands will be open from 9am to 6pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. [MLive]

The future of 3 buildings up in the air

Three buildings in downtown Kalamazoo raised the curiosity of listeners to WMUK because of their history and uncertain future. The Michigan Avenue Courthouse next to Bronson Park, the Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse across the street, and the former Oakland Pharmacy on West Michigan were all built nearly 100 years ago and meant to provide a boost to downtown Kalamazoo. The Oakland Pharmacy is long gone, replaced by a series of other businesses including the once-popular Boogie Records. Now it sits empty. The Michigan Avenue Courthouse, or MAC, is still in use, but not for much longer. Only the Federal Building seems to be carrying on its purpose. No longer used as the post office it was originally built for, the federal government said it intends to keep using it as a courthouse for the foreseeable future.

The MAC is soon to be outmoded by a brand new courthouse being built down the road. The building is owned by PlazaCorp, the development company behind other major downtown developments such as the Exchange Building. As part of a 2017 land swap agreement with the county, PlazaCorp has to keep at least the facade of the building as-is until 2037. The company wouldn’t say what its plans are for the building. As for the former Oakland Pharmacy, it is now owned by a company linked to the Comensoli family, which also owns an eponymous restaurant near downtown. The company declined to say what it wants to with the building. [WMUK]

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

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Kalamazoo County Senior Millage Impact – Portage Zhang Senior Center
1:30PM 4/17

Drink the Wild: Recipes from a Kitchen Witch for the Spirited and Sober Soul – Kalamazoo Public Library, Oshtemo
6:30PM 4/17

Is There a Cure for Racism? – Public Media Network
6:30PM 4/17

Kirk Newman Art School Residents – Part III – Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
12:00PM 4/18

DEBT, AHHHHHH – Michigan Works
2:00PM 4/18

GLAMA Community Sing – Kalamazoo Public Library, Central
6:00PM 4/18

Southwest Michigan Manufacturers Consortium 2023 Kick-off – Southwest Michigan First
7:30AM 4/19

“Fierce Poise: Helen Frankenthaler and 1950s New York” by Alexander Nemerov – Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
2:00PM 4/19

Tough Topics: The Absence of Money Talk in Our Youth – Kalamazoo Public Library, Central
4:00PM 4/19

Board Game Night – Main Street Pub, West Main
6:00PM 4/19

BRAVO! Competition 2023 Recital – Fontana
7:00PM 4/19

Out of Favor Boys – O’Duffy’s Pub
7:00PM 4/19

Wednesday Comedy Night – Final Gravity Brewing Co.
8:30PM 4/19

See more upcoming events here.

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