Com­mis­sion­ers hear so­cial ser­vice up­dates

The Community Connection - - LOCAL NEWS - By Os­car Gam­ble ogam­ble@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @OGam­ble_TH on Twit­ter

NOR­RIS­TOWN >> Mont­gomery County’s ef­forts to stem the tide of opi­oid-re­lated over­doses and to con­nect those in need with vi­tal ser­vices was at the fore­front of the county com­mis­sion­ers’ lat­est meet­ing.

First, the com­mis­sion­ers heard from mem­bers of the county’s Over­dose Task Force Work­ing Group, an in­ter­de­part­men­tal coali­tion ded­i­cated to fight­ing the opi­oid epi­demic on all fronts.

The group con­sists of mem­bers of adult pro­ba­tion, the com­mis­sioner’s of­fice, health and hu­man ser­vices, the of­fice of drugs and al­co­hol, the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice, the pub­lic de­fender’s of­fice, pub­lic safety, and the coro­ner’s of­fice.

Sev­eral mem­bers of the group pre­sented as­pects of their an­nual re­port, in­clud­ing a coro­ner’s pre­sen­ta­tion which showed a slight ta­per­ing off of largely opi­oid-re­lated drug over­dose deaths (245) in 2017 from 2016

(249). This comes af­ter a sharp in­crease in over­dose deaths that be­gan in the last quar­ter of 2015 and con­tin­ued through 2016.

Of par­tic­u­lar note was the rise in fen­tanyl and fen­tanyl ana­log-re­lated over­doses, as these sub­stances can be ex­po­nen­tially stronger, and more lethal than heroin.

Brian P. Pasquale of the de­part­ment of pub­lic safety an­nounced a re­cently pro­cured grant from the Bu­reau of Jus­tice that would im­prove the county’s over­dose data­base and “give all those folks in­volved on the front lines of opi­oid re­sponse, bet­ter in­for­ma­tion in a more timely man­ner.”

De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tor Kristen Fisher up­dated the com­mis­sion­ers on the county’s nalox­one ed­u­ca­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion ef­forts.

Fisher high­lighted sev­eral free venues where res­i­dents can pick up nalox­one kits, in­clud­ing an up­com­ing event at the New Life Pres­by­te­rian Church in Glen­side, Tues­day, Dec. 4.

She also said those with­out in­sur­ance or deal­ing with fi­nan­cial hard­ship can get the po­ten­tially life-sav­ing opi­oid re­ver­sal drug at any of the de­part­ment’s free clin­ics in Nor­ris­town Pottstown or Wil­low Grove. All the in­for­ma­tion res­i­dents and first re­spon­ders need to ac­cess the county’s nalox­one pro­gram, in­clud­ing reg­is­tra­tion for the free events and a video on how to use Nar­can, a nalox­one nasal spray, can now be found on a sin­gle web­site, www. mont­copa.org/3068/Howto-Get-Nalox­one.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Fisher spoke about Lights of Hope, a spe­cial event to re­mem­ber those lost to ad­dic­tion and cel­e­brate those in re­cov­ery, held out­side the county court­house last month and the de­part­ment’s new ini­tia­tives fo­cus­ing on as­sess­ment and in­ter­ven­tion for youth, those in­car­cer­ated or on pro­ba­tion, and the home­less.

The of­fice of drug and al­co­hol is also work­ing on a “warm hand­off” ini­tia­tive with lo­cal hos­pi­tals wherein hos­pi­tal staff works with peo­ple ad­mit­ted for over­doses to re­fer them to drug treat­ment cen­ters in­stead of re­leas­ing them with­out sup­port to deal with their ad­dic­tion.

In an ef­fort to bet­ter con­nect county res­i­dents with es­sen­tial ser­vices and in­for­ma­tion the Mont­gomery County De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices’ Of­fice of Com­mu­nity Con­nec­tions now has a cen­tral num­ber to reach its nav­i­ga­tor/ad­vo­cates or Nav­i­cates: 610-278-3522

Nav­i­cates are “skilled hu­man ser­vice pro­fes­sion­als” trained and qual­i­fied to work with res­i­dents and point them in the right di­rec­tion to ac­cess an ar­ray of ser­vices in­clud­ing vet­er­ans af­fairs, af­ford­able taxes, re­cy­cling, child­care, ad­dic­tion, ag­ing and adults ser­vices and more.

Com­mu­nity Con­nec­tions Ad­min­is­tra­tor El­iz­a­beth DiAr­can­gelo ex­plained that the last four dig­its of the new num­ber — 3552, rep­re­sent the first let­ters of foster, link, ad­vo­cate and con­nect; an easy way to re­mem­ber how to reach the of­fice’s Nav­i­cates.

With a more all-en­com­pass­ing fo­cus fol­low­ing a de­part­men­tal merger with the of­fice of ag­ing and adult ser­vices, the new for­mat al­lows for of­fices in Nor­ris­town, Pottstown, Lans­dale and Wil­low Grove to pro­vide co­or­di­nated eq­ui­table dis­tri­bu­tion of re­gional calls, an­swer more live calls or re­turn calls within 24 hours, and gives Nav­i­cates more time to spend en­gag­ing with res­i­dents for a more holis­tic ap­proach, DiAr­can­gelo said.

The com­mu­nity con­nec­tions of­fice is also of­fer­ing per­son-cen­tered coun­sel­ing, a process of fol­low-ups and as­sess­ment de­signed to bet­ter re­solve res­i­dents’ is­sues.

In other busi­ness, the com­mis­sioner’s unan­i­mously ap­proved con­tracts for mu­nic­i­pal plan­ning with Lans­dale Bor­ough and the Lower Me­rion School Dis­trict.

The $68,607 Lans­dale con­tract will be com­bined with match­ing funds to fur­ther im­ple­ment the bor­ough’s com­pre­hen­sive plan, in­clud­ing a park­ing and cir­cu­la­tion study of Moyer’s Road Park, ge­o­graphic in­for­ma­tion sys­tem maps and gen­eral ser­vices.

The county will also pro­vide $1,768 of the to­tal $7,070 cost of a full study de­mo­graphic anal­y­sis of the Lower Me­rion School Dis­trict.

The com­mis­sioner’s also en­tered into an agree­ment to re­pair and sell a par­cel of county-owned prop­erty on Sem­i­nary Street in Pennsburg. The small lot runs be­tween two houses and has a sink­hole-prone storm drain be­neath it. For just un­der $7,600 the county will pay bor­ough pub­lic prop­erty staff to re­pair the site, paving the way for its sale and re­moval from the repos­i­tory list of the Mont­gomery County Tax Claim Bu­reau.

The com­mis­sion­ers also ap­proved an ad­ver­tise­ment on of be­half of the as­sets and in­fra­struc­ture de­part­ment for the paint­ing and re­pair of a large barn in Up­per Schuylkill Val­ley Park and a re­quest for in­for­ma­tion on be­half of the South­east PA Re­gional Task Force for au­to­matic li­cense plate read­ers.

Con­tracts of note in­cluded an ad­di­tional $240,000 re­quested by the plan­ning com­mis­sion to amend the $760,000 con­tract awarded to Boles, Smyth As­so­ci­ates inc. of Philadel­phia for re­design of a the por­tion of the Ch­ester Val­ley Trail ad­ja­cent to the DeKalb Street Bridge in Bridgeport and an ad­di­tional $78,000 for un­fore­seen field scope changes re­quired to com­plete the re­con­struc­tion of County Bridge #231 over Perkiomen Creek in Hanover Town­ship. The orig­i­nal con­tract to­taled $1,048,000.

All Mont­gomery County bids and RFPs are avail­able on the county’s pub­lic pur­chase web­site, www. mont­copa.org.Pub­lic-Pur­chase-Op­por­tu­ni­ties.

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