Governor’s Heroin Task Force Western Regional Summit Held in Hagerstown

Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford and the Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force held a Western Maryland Regional Summit in Hagerstown on Monday, May 18. This is the fourth such regional summit. The task force and audience members heard from representatives and community members from Allegany, Frederick, Garrett and Washington Counties on the impact of heroin and opioid on their communities and suggestions as to what gaps still need to be filled. Speakers also talked about successful local programs that the task force may take into consideration to replicate statewide as they continue to meet with communities across the state to help develop a comprehensive plan for addressing the opioid issue.

As reported in The Frederick News-Post:

[Frederick County Health Officer Dr. Barbara] Brookmyer spoke about an initiative that launched two weeks ago in which a peer recovery support expert was embedded in Frederick Memorial Hospital’s emergency department to identify patients with drug or substance abuse problems.

“The first day they had eight referrals, next day six referrals, the next day after that eight referrals, so already that one individual is getting close to the maximum amount of individuals he can effectively serve,” Brookmyer said, highlighting the importance of funding for similar efforts.

Funding was a recurring theme throughout the summit that Rutherford addressed during a break. Rutherford stopped short of supporting more funding for substance-abuse programs, saying he believes the problem can be addressed by making sure the money currently allocated is used more efficiently.

“The challenge is … everything is a priority; everything is very important, but there’s a limited amount of resources,” Rutherford said. “One of the things that Gov. [Larry] Hogan has tasked all of us with is making sure that the money we put into programs are being used most effectively, so it may not be an issue of more money.”

As reported on Herald-Mail Media:

Among the morning speakers, there was a general consensus that incarceration by itself has not worked.

Washington County Sheriff Doug Mullendore once again advocated for a day-reporting drug treatment center at the summit.

“Until we start recognizing that this is a medical issue and not necessarily a criminal issue, then we’re not going to get to the root of the problems that we have,” Mullendore said.

He said that efforts to confront the issue include administering Vivitrol to heroin addicts at the Washington County Detention Center to help them deal with their addiction.

Mullendore said that the overwhelming majority of thefts and robberies in the county are committed by people with some type of addiction.

The agenda for the Western Maryland summit and information for the future regional summits on the Eastern Shore and in the Washington, D.C. region may be found on the task force’s website.

For more information:

Heroin Task Force Summit Opens Discussion to Frederick County Experts, Residents (The Frederick News-Post)

Western MD Officials Seek Solution to Heroin Scourge (Herald-Mail Media)

Previous coverage on Conduit Street:

Governor’s Heroin and Opioid Task Force Visits Southern Maryland

Central Maryland Heroin Task Force Regional Summit Held in Baltimore City