BOSTON (WHDH) - Massachusetts General Hospital unveiled a “mock-up” of a safe injection site at its Charlestown location on Wednesday, drawing praise from some but concern and disapproval from others.
The supervised injection site would be stocked full with sterilized needles, tourniquets, and life-saving Narcan, according to the hospital.
Injection site supporters say the mock location gives the public a firsthand look at how the concept could save lives.
“They have the opportunity to use and not die,” said Cheryl Juaire, who lost her son to an overdose in 2011. “These are important. I think it’s a no-brainer.”
A recent federal court ruling in Philadelphia declared supervised injection sites did not violate federal law.
Advocates hope that decision clears the way for more sites to open.
“We’re not supplying drugs and we’re not actually going to be injecting the patient,” said Dr. Mark Eisenberg, a primary care doctor at MGH. “They will be injecting themselves but we will be observing from a safe place.”
Eisenberg says people would also be offered treatment.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling called the sites harmful and illegal.
“We respectfully disagree with it…efforts to open injection facilities, including here in Massachusetts, will be met with federal enforcement,” Lelling said in a statement.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is on the same page as Lelling.
“I think safe injection sites are not the answer,” Baker told 7NEWS. “I would much rather pursue many of the programs we’ve put in place about harm reduction treatment and recovery.”
Despite opposition and legal hurdles, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone says his city is moving forward with opening a safe injection site.
“Our intent is to launch in 2020,” Curtatone said. “You see a great outcome in the Philadelphia case and we’ll be prepared to take on that legal challenge.”
Curtatone has since set up a working group of nonprofits, first responders, and public health officials as the city continues its push for an injection site.
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