Dr. Gayle Jordan-Randolph, Deputy Secretary of Behavioral Health and Disabilities at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) met with MACo’s Legislative Committee Wednesday to discuss the Governor’s Overdose Response Council and the State’s plan for tackling the epidemic of drug abuse and overdoses.
Highlights from Deputy Secretary Jordan-Randolph’s presentation on the Department’s and the Council’s work to tackle heroin include:
- Data Sharing – Expanding the data collected and shared inter-departmentally for analysis and validation is important for identifying trends and targeting intervention.
- Statewide Plans to Address Overdose Deaths – DHMH released a statewide opioid overdose prevention plan as did all counties and Baltimore City. These plans allow for approaches tailored to the nuances of the individual jurisdictions.
- Naloxone Expansion – The Maryland State Police, Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, DHMH recently released a consolidated plan for expanding naloxone training to officers and EMTs as well as access for naloxone through the Overdose Response Program. Naloxone is a drug that can be used to reverse an opioid overdose.
- Statewide Education Campaign – The campaign will raise awareness and spread information through various mediums including posters, pamphlets, billboards and bus ads. Components of the campaign will target special populations such as parolees, individuals released from detention and people with a history of drug treatment — populations who are at high risk for relapse or overdose.
Deputy Secretary Jordan-Randolph also discussed expanding treatment and recovery services and the merger of the Department’s Mental Health Administration and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration into Behavioral Health Services.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Overdose Response Council, which was created by executive order in June, is tasked in part with advising the Governor on a statewide plan to reduce fatal and non-fatal overdoses as well as developing recommendations for policies, regulations or legislation to address the opioid overdose epidemic.
The epidemic of heroin use and overdoses is of particular concern to the local officials and their communities. One of the proposed MACo Initiatives focuses on providing counties with broad tools to tackle the drug crisis. The MACo Legislative Committee formally adopted proposed MACO Initiatives for the 2015 session, a work product of the Association’s Initiatives Subcommittee on Wednesday.