PORTLAND, Ore.–Our community is now in a state of emergency called by the top elected leaders of Portland, Multnomah County and Oregon. But there are some who doubt whether the 90 day plan to fight fentanyl, will actually work.
Sarah Fisher is an Episcopal priest and a street chaplain in East Portland. She’s seen many deaths from fentanyl.
“I’m here for my friend Aelita, whose son died last Sunday of a fentanyl overdose. I’m here for our friend Sassy, who died last night on the corner of Southeast 82nd and Ash. I’m here for all of the people who are dying suddenly or slowly from this epidemic.”
Tim Larson’s a Lyft driver in Portland, and also sees a lot of trouble linked to fentanyl.
“In every corner of the city, there are people smoking fentanyl in the street corners.” He says, “I hope that this emergency declaration is not just another one in a list of publicity gathering paper writing with absolutely no results, like all of the ones we’ve seen.”
Health Director Rachel Banks says the fentanyl emergency offers a real chance for change.
“We know that the issues that we’re facing are long term and will take both immediate action and upstream strategies. And so to that end we’ll be working with Oregon Health Authority. And so we’re working with the state of Oregon to be identifying policy practice strategies.”
Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Peterson also says this approach can work.
“Addiction is a chronic disease. We also know that with the right treatment, people can and do recover. This declaration will help us meet people where they are and get staff and our community the support that it needs.”
But Multnomah County Commissioner Dr. Sharon Meieran has her doubts.
“In my view this resolution says nothing and does nothing.”