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State Legislature considers bills to let librarians administer overdose medication

Corner of a library with bookshelves and a study table
Blue Mountains Library
Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

State lawmakers want to give librarians immunity from any issues that could arise if they administer opioid overdose medication. A state House committee passed bills on Tuesday that would do that.

The quiet, secluded nature of libraries makes them an attractive place for some drug users to get their fix. Librarians can administer overdose medication like Narcan. But some don’t carry it because they could be sued if something goes wrong.

Gail Madziar is the executive director of the Michigan Library Association. She says drug overdoses in libraries are a growing problem. She says a woman died of an overdose at the association’s president’s library.

“She was lying there with a needle in her arm and they did CPR; they did what they could, but unfortunately, the first responders did not get there in time,” she says. “It’s very important that if a patron is in need and there’s something that they can do to assist that patron, they want to do it.”

In 2017, Michigan had a record number of overdose deaths from opioids. But officials say the increase in opioid-related deaths is starting to slow.

Representative Jason Sheppard (R-Temperance) is a bill sponsor.

“I felt like this is something that would be another tool in the toolbox for possibly saving someone’s life if they wander into a library and decide to do that,” he says.

Similar bills were introduced in the last session, but only made it out of one committee. Sheppard says he believes the full House will vote on the legislation this week.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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