Alderman Napolitano wants treatment more readily available to help police and other city workers having suicidal thoughts; insurance currently won’t cover the cost of the injection
by BRIAN NADIG
Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) has introduced a resolution calling for hearings to discuss how the city of Chicago can assist city workers who are having suicidal thoughts obtain the Stellate Ganglion Block treatment, otherwise known as “The God Shot.”
The shot has been successful in tearing post traumatic stress disorder in members of the military, and at a Dec. 8 City Council hearing, several Chicago police officers testified how the drug played a significant role in helping them deal with their PTSD, according to Napolitano.
About 40 aldermen have signed onto the proposed resolution.
“The God Shot’ is a new medical procedure used by the U.S. military to stop suicidal thoughts,” Napolitano said. “I hope to bring this procedure to the city of Chicago to help combat the ongoing battle with suicide among first responders as well as all city workers.”
The city reportedly has had about two dozen deaths by suicide in the past four years by Chicago police offices, including several in December.
According to a 2017 U.S. Justice Department research study, Chicago police officers were 60 percent more likely to die by suicide than the general population, according to Napolitano.
“Former wellness advisor to the Chicago Police Department, Alexa James, has been quoted as saying the Chicago Police Department is in drastic need of a ‘comprehensive strategy’ for assisting overworked officers and that the officers ‘need a break’ to reduce ‘hugely impactful’ stress from the ‘inhumane’ canceling of days off.
“(These actions) affect decision-making and compounds disorders, stress, depression and anxiety,” the resolution states.
The resolution adds, “Mental health experts, like Ms. James, state clearly that the ‘city of Chicago must reimagine its strategy in regards to detecting, intervening and saving officers who are on the brink of a mental health crisis.”
Napolitano, a former officer, said that images of shooting victims or other acts of violence can “haunt” officers for the rest of their life.
The resolution asks the city agencies to look into ways in which the city can help workers pay for the SGB treatment or alternative ones.
Health insurance for city workers will not cover the cost of the procedure because the Federal Drug Administration has not approved its use for addressing PTSD, Napolitano said. He added that allowing workers to pay for the treatment with their “flex” health care spending account or setting up a grant program to cover costs should be studied as long as insurance continue not to cover the treatment.
The injection reportedly can cost around $2,000.
The stellate ganglion is a collection of nerves located in the neck and when a local anesthetic is administered into the symposium nerves, the agent blocks symptoms from reaching the brain, minimizing the “fight or flight” reaction. This reaction refers to how the brain processes danger.