St. Croix Tribal Council Enhances Community Health With Public Health Vending Machines

'The St Croix Tribal Council understands that in order for our community to be healthy, we need to work together to help each other.'

St. Croix Tribal Council Enhances Community Health With Public Health Vending Machines

In October of 2023 the St Croix Tribal Council had delivered four Public Health Vending Machines (PHVM) to four communities on reservation land throughout three counties. The PHVM were placed in Danbury (Burnett County), Sand Lake (Burnett County), Round Lake (Polk County) and Maple Plain (Barron County). These PHVM were purchased through a grant from the State of Wisconsin. The goals of Wisconsin's PHVM grant project is to improve the quality of life for people who use drugs by providing free health and safety supplies in communities most impacted by overdoses and overdose deaths and reducing the stigma related to drug use by treating people who use drugs with dignity and respect.

The St Croix Tribal Council realizes that a healthy community is one that continuously creates and improves both its physical and social environments, helping people to support one another in aspects of daily life and to develop to their fullest potential. The St Croix Tribal Council understands that in order for our community to be healthy, we need to work together to help each other.

The St Croix Tribal Council presented a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to Polk County back in August of 2023. The purpose of the MOU was to collaborate and work together to focus on the “10 Essential Public Health Services” that provide a framework for public health to protect and promote the health of all people in all communities. To achieve equity, the 10 Essential Public Health Services actively promote policies, systems, and overall community conditions that enable optimal health for all and seek to remove systemic and structural barriers that have resulted in health inequities. Such barriers include poverty, racism, gender discrimination, ableism, and other forms of oppression. Everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to achieve optimal health and well-being.

When the St Croix Tribe was awarded the grant for the PHVM, the St Croix Tribal Health Center staff went to work identifying and planning the products the machines would dispense. The most suggested items were Narcan, Deterra Drug Disposal Bags (to safely dispose of prescription medications) and Fentanyl Test Strips (FTS). Recognizing that drug use can lead to other risky behaviors, staff looked at dispensing other public health needs including condoms, pregnancy tests, at home test kits to test for Sexually Transmitted Infections, Hepatitis C and HIV. It was also important to recognize that addiction has its effect on mental health, so cable gun locks are also dispensed in the machines for home safety and suicide prevention. Every item that is dispensed, from any of the PHVM, is packaged with a local and tribal services resource guide.

While it was not an easy task to identify the products that would be dispensed, the harder task was to obtain the items for the PHVM. Most clinic funding available at the time had location and service-type restrictions that excluded the PHVM from eligibility for spending. The important part of this task was to ensure that ANY person who needs ANY of the items dispensed from the PHVM, could access them at ANY time, FREE OF CHARGE. This is possible because of great partnerships, including the partnership with Polk County Public Health Department. The agency was able to donate Deterra drug disposal bags and pregnancy tests all for the Round Lake PHVM which greatly reduced the purchasing burden of accomplishing this project. Other supplies in the PHVM were obtained through mutual aid or grant funded. The cable gun locks that are in the Round Lake PHVM were supplied through the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

In the 5 months the PHVM have been in operation the user demographics are as follows:

User (those who have obtained a PIN number) demographics:

  • 29% Males
  • 71% Females
  • 29% Non-Native
  • 71% Native American


  • 0-20: 0
  • 21-30: 14%
  • 31-40: 34%
  • 41-50: 14%
  • 51-60: 23%
  • 61-70: 3%
  • 71-80: 0
  • 81-90: 0

County of Residence:

  • Burnett: 60%
  • Polk: 26%
  • Washburn: 8%
  • Barron: 3%
  • Douglas: 3%

Polk County Community Services Division will now be able to provide access to the St Croix Tribal PHVM by issuing the necessary PIN number needed to obtain items from the PHVM. To obtain a PIN, you can walk into the Community Services Division front desk at 100 Polk County Plaza, Balsam Lake, WI or call them at 715-485-8400. While obtaining a PIN is confidential, the following information is requested from you: your age, gender, county of residence and if you are Native American or not.

The St Croix Tribal Council and Polk County Public Health Department enjoy working together on this project and are anticipating many more cooperative and collaborative joint ventures in the future, all to benefit the health and wellbeing of our community as a whole.

Last Update: Apr 05, 2024 9:20 am CDT

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