Anne Arundel Looks to Expand ‘Safe Stations’

Anne Arundel County officials want to expand its “Safe Stations” addiction treatment referral program as Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday more than $22 million will go toward combating heroin addiction.

The Capital Gazette reports,

In a release, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said about $17.7 million will go to “Maryland’s 24 local jurisdictions and service providers to fund prevention, enforcement, and treatment efforts throughout the state.”

Anne Arundel County’s Opioid Intervention Team — headed by the county health officer and emergency manager to examine issues involving opioid addiction in their community — will receive $286,858.61 in additional money.

Out of the 23 counties and Baltimore city, Anne Arundel received the third most amount of funding in the state out of a $4 million pot — behind Baltimore city and Baltimore County.

It’s in line with the number of opioid overdoses the county saw in 2016, which was also the third highest in the state.

Fran Phillips, the acting executive director of the county’s Department of Health, said the county’s Opioid Intervention Team is still discussing how to best spend the more than $285,000, but are looking at sending additional funds to the county’s “Safe Stations” program.

Launched in April, the program turns the county’s firehouses and police stations into veritable safe havens for drug addicts seeking treatment. Anyone who is addicted to drugs who walks into a police station or firehouse can ask for help without fear of being arrested and then referred to a treatment center.

As of July 5, 74 people have taken advantage of the program, according to the Anne Arundel County Police Department.

“That is working and we feel that is something we want to be able to expand the capability of,” Phillips said.

Outside of $4 million distributed to each jurisdiction’s Opioid Intervention Team, the largest single allocation is $3.2 million “to expand treatment beds statewide,” the state department said.

The department said $10 million of the funding comes from Hogan’s commitment to put $50 million toward addressing the state’s growing opioid problem.

Another $10 million comes from the federal 21st Century Cures Act and the last $2.1 million comes from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, the department said.

It also follows the passage of the Hope Act in the General Assembly earlier this year, which directs the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to open a new drug treatment center in the state by summer of 2018.

More than half of the $22 million in funding goes to treatment specifically, with $3.2 million going toward expanding “treatment beds statewide, as well as a tracking system,” the department said.

State health department spokeswoman Katie Kuehn wrote in an email that “local, county, and state agencies have the opportunity to apply for competitive grants from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention.”

The office’s executive director, Glenn Fueston, said the funding “will be used to continue to collaboration and coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement.”

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