Campus Living distributed Narcan (naloxone) kits to residential staff after holding dialogues with residential life paraprofessionals.
Narcan, a nasal spray form of the drug naloxone, reverses opioid overdoses by blocking opioids’ effects on the brain.
The policy change and dialogues with paraprofessionals followed the publication of an anonymous letter that criticized Campus Living for not providing staff with access to the life-saving drug, which has been required in SUNY and CUNY residence halls since new state requirements took effect this year.
In response to the letter, administrators held dialogues in which paraprofessionals expressed concerns about a variety of topics, including Narcan. This didn’t lead to changes in Narcan procedures, but Campus Living “simply distributed the Narcan to the area offices to ensure the RAs and CAs had access to them when they did rounds,” Trung Nguyen, the assistant vice president for student engagement and success, said in an email.
“It was a mistake, not getting [Narcan kits] out faster,” Dean of Students Dr. Tomás Aguirre, who was involved in the dialogues, said. He added that he appreciated listening to paraprofessionals’ concerns and that the discussions were productive.
State requirements enacted last fall require SUNY and CUNY schools to train residence hall staff in naloxone use before the start of each semester. UB provided the training before the spring and fall 2023 semesters, but its Narcan procedures were “only finalized following staff training in August and the start of the fall semester,” Meegan Hunt, the interim director for Residential Life, said in an email.
Previously, staff were instructed to call University Police (UPD); the new protocol still requires staff to call UPD first, but allows them to administer naloxone before officers arrive. Staff now carry kits containing Narcan, rubber gloves and alcohol pads when they are on duty, and Narcan kits are stationed near every automated external defibrillator (AED).
The anonymous letter from a paraprofessional said that residential staff used Narcan to save the lives of a student and a faculty member who overdosed last year.
According to statistics from UB, residential staff have used Narcan once since training began this January. In the incident, a community assistant administered Narcan to a guest in the Hadley Village apartment complex “just a few days after being trained,” Hunt said.
University Police have administered Narcan three times since October 2022. None of the three were UB students.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or would like to get Narcan, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s hotline: 1 (800) 487-4889.
Sol Hauser is a news editor and can be reached at email@example.com