$1M grant to com­bat opi­oid epi­demic

The Community Connection - - FRONT PAGE -

The Mont­gomery County De­part­ment of Pub­lic Safety has re­ceived a $1 mil­lion grant to de­velop an Emer­gency Med­i­cal Over­dose Surveil­lance Sys­tem to de­velop im­proved strate­gies for com­bat­ing the opi­oid over­dose epi­demic and other drug re­lated prob­lems that have plagued the county, the re­gion and the na­tion for the past sev­eral years.

The three-year grant was awarded by the fed­eral Of­fice of Jus­tice Pro­grams to form a multi-dis­ci­plinary group with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from nu­mer­ous law en­force­ment, health and so­cial ser­vices agen­cies to de­velop a plan for col­lect­ing data in one cloud-based sys­tem that all agen­cies can ac­cess and use in com­bat­ing the drug over­dose epi­demic.

The grant cov­ers the cost of hir­ing a project man­ager, data an­a­lyst and tech­ni­cian to im­ple­ment and run the sys­tem.

“We are proud of the in­roads we have made so far in fight­ing the opi­oid epi­demic here in Mont­gomery County,” said Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sion­ers’ Chair­woman Val Arkoosh. “This grant gives us a valu­able data-driven tool that will help save lives and com­bat the stigma sur­round­ing sub-

stance use dis­or­der.”

Mont­gomery County has ex­pe­ri­enced a 40 per­cent rise in opi­oid over­dose deaths from 2015 to 2017. There were 736 con­firmed

cases of drug over­doses in Mont­gomery County in 2017 and 245 of them were fa­tal, ac­cord­ing to the Mont­gomery County De­part­ment of Pub­lic Safety.

The num­ber of fa­tal­i­ties in 2017 was down slightly from 249 in 2016 and those num­bers con­tinue to trend in the right di­rec­tion this

year. There were 114 over­dose deaths in the first six months of 2018 com­pared to 127 deaths in the first half of 2017.

Emer­gency Med­i­cal Over­dose Surveil­lance Sys­tem will com­pile data about drug use pat­terns of both non-fa­tal and fa­tal over­dose vic­tims in real-time and en­able the im­me­di­ate anal­y­sis of all the avail­able data with­out hav­ing to wait months or longer for re­ports to be­come avail­able.

The abil­ity to more quickly iden­tify com­mu­ni­ties

and in­di­vid­u­als at great­est risk for drug mis­use, abuse and over­dose will help the County’s Opi­ate Re­sponse Task Force to brain­storm, plan and im­ple­ment data-driven re­sponses to fur­ther re­duce drug over­dose deaths.

Part­ners in the project in­clude the Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice, Solic­i­tor’s Of­fice, Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, County De­tec­tives, Coro­ner’s Of­fice, Pub­lic Health Of­fice, Drug and Al­co­hol Of­fice, Men­tal Health Of­fice,

Man­aged Care So­lu­tions Of­fice, Per­for­mance and Plan­ning Of­fice and the County Over­dose Task­force, the Philadel­phia-Cam­den High In­ten­sity Drug Traf­fick­ing Area (HIDTA) and the Penn­syl­va­nia De­part­ment of Health Pre­scrip­tion Drug Mon­i­tor­ing Pro­gram.

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