Heroin Task Force Recommends Support to Local Health Departments

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force, chaired by Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, released its interim report on Tuesday, August 25, which presented some initial findings, budget and policy recommendations. Earlier this year, Governor Hogan committed to spending $2 million in FY 16 funding to combat heroin and opioid misuse. The Task Force relied on feedback from the regional summits and other stakeholder input to provide initial funding recommendations for this $2 million which have been approved and authorized by the Governor. This post highlights a few of the recommendations that directly impact local health departments (LHDs).

Providing Community-Based Naloxone Training and Distribution

$500,000 in supplemental grants has been directed to LHDs to support the Overdose Response Program (ORP).  The ORP is a means for training community members how to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose. It is a valuable tool to help ensure the people best situated to prevent an overdose are trained and equipped to do so. LHDs have filled an important role in providing and promoting ORP training. The program has been historically funded in part by the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA). However results from a recent survey indicated that LHDs and other ORP training entities would have difficulties continuing to provide training and distributing naloxone without State support.

The grants will be distributed through the BHA and may be used to purchase naloxone and related supplies, personnel time, and to promote and implement training events. Funding will be prioritized for LHDs that propose to use standing orders for the prescribing and dispensing of naloxone, and for LHDs that partner with community-based organizations to maximize the number of available training sessions.

MACo supported legislation introduced by Senator Klausmeier during the 2015 General Assembly session that made changes to the ORP program to increase the programs effectiveness of getting individuals trained and equipped with naloxone. The bill, which was signed into law by the Governor, authorized the use of standing orders for naloxone.

Piloting Naloxone Distribution to Individuals Screened Positive for Opioid Use Disorder at Release from Local Detention Centers

$150,000 in supplemental grants has been awarded to three Southern Maryland LHDs — Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties — to implement pilot programs in partnership with their local detention centers targeting individuals at high-risk for overdose being released from incarceration. Research indicates addicted individuals reentering society following incarceration are at high-risk for overdose shortly after release. The programs will provide overdose education and naloxone distribution.

The report notes the three Southern Maryland Counties were selected to pilot the program because of their high rates of overdose deaths, limited distribution of naloxone through the ORP, and lack programs that have received Evzio. Data collected from the pilot programs will be used to determine whether statewide expansion of the programs is feasible.

Other notable mentions of support to local jurisdictions:

  • $100,000 for expanding supportive recovery housing for women with children.  Priority will be given to jurisdictions that currently do not have recovery housing for women with children and those with significant waiting lists.
  • $24,700 to fund overtime for Dorchester County law enforcement to collaborate with regional law enforcement and gather intelligence on heroin trafficking.

Additional Information:

Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force Interim Report

Additional Coverage:

Rutherford: ‘Probably Never Going to be Enough’ Money to Fix Maryland’s Heroin Problem (The Baltimore Sun)

Our Say: Police Can’t Defeat Heroin by Themselves (The Capital Gazette)