Officials boost funding to fight opioid crisis
WEST CHESTER » The Chester County commissioners recently presented a check for $20,000 to Vince Brown, director of the county’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Services, as further endorsement of the commitment to fight the opioid and heroin crisis in the county.
The $20,000, which is part of the commissioners’ appropriations funds, will support the county’s new Community Outreach and Prevention Education (COPE) initiative, borne out of the Chester County Overdose Prevention Task Force.
COPE will provide one-to-one support for overdose survivors and their families and friends; provide overdose prevention in-
formation and outreach to first responders, hospital staff, family members and friends; and importantly, provide expedited admission into detox and a review of all treatment options for overdose survivors who agree to treatment.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro recently visited Chester County to discuss the crisis with state lawmakers, municipal officials and law enforcement officers.
Shapiro told the panel that the crisis is taxing law enforcement and first responders in a significant way. He said police sometimes return to administer Narcan to the same person multiple times. There were 4,642 drug-related deaths in Pennsylvania last year, and if nothing is done, that number will skyrocket, he said.
“We’ve arrested 844 drug dealers since I took office eight months ago. We could do that every day on and on, but at the end of the day it’s not going to solve it,” he said. “Prescription drugs are the root cause of so many of these problems.”
Chester County’s commitment to tackling the opioid and heroin epidemic is evident in the intensive health, education, treatment and law enforcement measures coordinated by the Overdose Prevention Task Force.
“The opioid and heroin crisis remains a very big concern that we, as a county, have been cooperatively addressing for some time,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chairwoman Michelle Kichline. “We’re talking to doctors about prescription practices, we’re undertaking law enforcement measures that make it harder to source the drugs in the county, we’re educating young people to try and prevent greater use in the future, and we’re working with emergency responders and hospitals to provide the right treatment options for overdose survivors.
“But the sad fact is that this awful epidemic is claiming more lives, and we have already surpassed our death toll for last year,” Kichline added. “Compared with other areas of the state or nation, Chester County may have fewer people abusing opioids and heroin, but deaths related to overdose are up 38 percent in Chester County for the first half of this year compared to 2016, and as of the end of September, 103 lives were lost to overdose here — deaths that most likely began with a prescription for opioid pain and ended with buying heroin on the street.”
Chester County’s Color 5K in 2016 raised $25,000 to help combat the opioid and heroin crisis.
Chester County Commissioners Terence Farrell, far left, Michelle Kichline, second from left, and Kathi Cozzone, far right, present a check for $20,000 to Vince Brown, director of the county’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Services as further endorsement of the commitment to fight the opioid and heroin crisis in the county.