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Agency unveils vending machines that provide free Narcan in Putnam County

In 2022, SMA Healthcare reported 389 overdoses in Putnam County. Fourteen of those overdoses were fatal.

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. — Four Narcan vending machines were installed last Friday by SMA Healthcare in Putnam County.

The agency provides behavioral healthcare to people living with addiction or mental illness.

Each box has two doses of Narcan inside it and directions are provided in the box. Each box is free.

“You basically put it up somebody’s nose, and you inject, kind of like nose sprays, and you wait for a few minutes to see if one dose was enough to revive them but if not then the second dose will likely be needed," said Nancy Russo, the regional Vice President for Putnam and St. Johns county for SMA healthcare.

Data specialist with SMA healthcare, Zahir Rawji, says people are already putting the Narcan vending machine to use.

“I actually did a route this morning to see how much was actually dispensed, and we dispensed about 170 over four days," said Rawji. 

In 2022, SMA Healthcare reported 389 overdoses in Putnam County. Fourteen of those overdoses were fatal and 174 doses of Narcan were used by law enforcement and emergency medical personnel that same year.

So far in 2023, not including March, SMA healthcare reported 66 overdoses in Putnam County. Two of those overdoses were fatal. 

“Addiction is a disease," said Russo. "Once the pleasure center of your brain has been hijacked by the use of substances it's hard to come back from that without some type of intervention, and until somebody finds that intervention, Narcan may be the only thing that keeps them alive to make it to that intervention that could get them to the road of recovery."

SMA Health care says they hope to expand these Narcan vending machine to other counties.

The Narcan vending locations in Putnam County: 

  • Life Church of Palatka, 2701 Reid Street. 
  • The Putnam County Jail lobby, 130 Orie Griffin Boulevard. 
  • AZA Health in Crescent City, 306 Union Avenue. 
  • AZA Health in Interlachen, 1213 State Road 20.

“I just think that they hopefully will be received by the entire community and people won’t be made to feel less than because they are using it," said Russo. 

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