To Fight Fentanyl Overdoses, Chicago Is Giving Away Free Tests – Kaiser Health News

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In other news, a clampdown on smoking in townhouses and condominiums in a Californian town; failings in the foster care system in Dallas; sanctions against unlicensed ambulance services staff in Omaha; a therapy scheme for Black men in St. Louis; and breast cancer.
Chicago Tribune: Chicago Now Passing Out Fentanyl Test Strips To Stem Overdoses 
The steps are simple: Mix a few grains of the drug sample with a ketchup cup’s worth of water, dip a tiny strip of paper and wait. Within minutes, the strip displays results: One line means there is fentanyl, and two lines mean there isn’t. That paper, which can detect any presence of fentanyl in a substance, is one of the latest tools Chicago officials and social service organizations are using against the deadly opioid that has infiltrated the city’s illicit drug supply and is responsible for most of its fatal overdoses in recent years. The Chicago Department of Public Health began offering these fentanyl test strips to the public for the first time in October. (Yin, 12/13)
The Boston Globe: Should We Fear Fentanyl-Laced Marijuana?
To many drug policy advocates, the reversal was proof that a spate of recent warnings by law enforcement and health officials around New England regarding dealers adding opioids to illicit market marijuana are bunk. They say the claims are the latest unfounded drug panic narrative sown by police, in line with perennial warnings about pot edibles being handed out to kids on Halloween or reports of officers overdosing at crime scenes after supposedly inhaling fentanyl powder or absorbing it through the skin (a physical impossibility). … Police counter that they are engaged in exactly the kind of harm-reducing communication that activists have long called for, providing timely warnings to the public about potential “bad batches” of illicit drugs without waiting for the results of lab tests that may or may not indicate cause for alarm. They also noted that fentanyl in recent years has repeatedly been detected in less-potent opioids such as heroin and other drugs sold on the street, including cocaine, causing thousands of overdoses. (Adams, 12/12)
In other news from across the United States —
The Mercury News: Pleasanton Restricting Smoking At Townhomes, Condominiums
Smoking will be banned in all common areas and on private balconies or decks of townhomes, condominiums and buildings with three or more attached homes in Pleasanton beginning next summer. The City Council approved the new rules unanimously in an effort to further curb exposure to harmful secondhand smoke. The rules apply to the homes whether they are occupied by a tenant or its owner, and will go into effect in July. Councilmembers Julie Testa and Valerie Arkin wanted the rules to go further, to limit smoking inside those homes because they are concerned smoke will seep through walls, outlets or fixtures, and affect other neighbors’ health, something Testa said she had experienced in the past. (Geha, 12/12)
Iowa Capital Dispatch: EMS Providers Sanctioned For Unlicensed Personnel And Incompetence
Iowa regulators are recommending that an Omaha-based ambulance service accused of repeatedly using unlicensed personnel to provide emergency care to patients have its license placed on probationary status for one year. The Iowa Department of Public Health made the recommendation and proposed a $500 fine against Midwest Medical Transport for violating Iowa regulations regarding the employment of unlicensed personnel. (Kauffman, 12/11)
Dallas Morning News: Foster Care Workers At Dallas Town Hall Forum Detail Pressures Of Helping Kids In Overwhelmed System
Days without sleep, 36 hours of weekly overtime, diminishing mental health, ignored 911 calls, “complete and utter chaos” — these are the working conditions described by Texas Department of Family and Protective Services employees amid the state’s foster care capacity crisis. Attendees of a town hall meeting Saturday afternoon in Dallas aimed to come up with short- and long-term solutions to address the growing number of children without placements, or CWOPs. The meeting, held at the Dallas County Democratic Party headquarters, was hosted by members of the Texas State Employees Union and presented to a panel of state and city officials. (Landers, 12/12)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: St. Louis Fathers Find Support In Therapy Program For Black Men
On the last Sunday of each month, dozens of men gather on Zoom to talk about workplace problems, parenthood stressors and pandemic upheaval. The program, started by the St. Louis website Dear Fathers, is a unique version of therapy — designed in bulk, for Black men, during a worldwide quarantine. Some who attend also say it’s fantastically successful. No topic is off the table: dad guilt, self-doubt, childhood trauma, relationship issues. “It is awesome to be in a room of guys who are open,” said Brocklon Chatman, of Florissant, who was at first apprehensive, but has since become a regular. “It’s not like sitting down with someone who is analyzing you.” (Schrappen, 12/12)
Health News Florida: See How This Gainesville Woman Turned Her Battle With Cancer Into Hope For Others 
One night while sleeping in her bed with her daughter, Nicole Miller of Gainesville had a dream that she had breast cancer. Four months later, she was diagnosed with just that. At age 32, Miller had both breasts removed to avoid having the cancer come back. She also had a hysterectomy after finding out how likely it was that she would develop ovarian cancer. Unwilling to think of a cancer diagnosis as a death sentence, Miller took a look at her situation and decided that not only would she survive, but she found peace and empowerment. (Godwin, 12/10)
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