Free Narcan being offered to YMCAs, public libraries nationwide


Walk the stacks at Columbus Metropolitan Library with Ben Zenitsky and he'll tell you about an ongoing issue.

"Absolutely, this is not a library issue," he said. "This is a community issue. This is a regional issue and this is a national issue that we're dealing with."

He says drug addicts come in the library, like readers, to find a quiet, secluded space.

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Narcan recently announced it wants to help by giving nationwide public libraries free doses, if they want it. Columbus Metropolitan Libraries, with 23 locations and is considered to be the largest library organization in Central Ohio, declined.

"Ultimately, the decision was made not to do so for a number of reasons," he said.

One reason is because Zenitsky says they looked at the average response times of EMS and first responders, which are relatively short. Another reason is because he says it's too risky for staff. Plus, he says continued renovations to half the buildings are helping, including better cameras, newer restrooms and lowering bookshelves by about three feet, which makes it difficult to find privacy.

Narcan is also being offered to YMCAs nationwide.

"Absolutely I think we are very encouraged to see that this gift is out there," Josh Varble said.

Varble is with YMCA of Central Ohio. He says its 13 branches, housing and shelter facilities host about 1,000 people. Narcan, he says is already used in their First-Aid kits and two doses had to be administered within the last year. It's why to the extra Narcan, he says yes.

"It's proactive," Varble said. "Whether or not a dose gets used or not, just having that available just in case to save someone's life is of critical importance."