Rachel Hargrove-Smith, a house monitor with CHI since August, was excited when the agency offered free training in May for certification in the administration of naloxone. The drug has saved thousands of lives, reversing the effects of opioid overdoses. But she never expected to use her training so quickly.
Just one week later, working the night shift at one of CHI’s Suffolk County small shelters for homeless single men, she decided to do a walk through.
“I’m a mother and sometimes you get a feeling that you have to check on your kids,” said Ms. Smith, who has a son and daughter. In one of the bedrooms she found a resident face down, not breathing and turning blue.
“I thought it was a heroin overdose,” she said, “as there was a needle sticking out of his arm.” Ms. Smith told a client to call 911 and says she immediately began chest compressions and sternum rub but he was unresponsive. That’s when she administered the naloxone, which goes by the brand name, NARCAN. By the time the ambulance came, the 50-year old resident was breathing on his own and able to speak. After a trip to the hospital, he was back at the shelter the next day but was embarrassed to come out of his room.
“He thanked me, apologized and we both cried,” said Smith, adding, “I love my job.”
The mother of two actually works two jobs—full time with CHI on the night shift at the shelter and as a certified nursing assistant at two nursing homes during the day. Her husband has a small business tiling and heating and air conditioning. Her son just graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo with a degree in criminal justice and has passed the exam to become a New York City police officer. Her daughter graduates high school this year with honors and will begin classes at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie in August. Ms. Smith herself hopes to go to college herself one day and become a case manager, “I just like helping people.”