Harford County received $170,313 in an effort to reduce overdose deaths as part of the larger effort of the Maryland’s Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC).
The OOCC was established in March of this year and modeled after an incident command center that serves as the coordinating entity between Maryland Department of Health, Maryland Emergency Management Agency, and the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention. In July, more than $22 million was designated to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic. Eighty percent went to Maryland’s 24 local jurisdictions and service providers to fund prevention, enforcement, and treatment efforts throughout the state.
In Harford County, an OOCC Senior Policy Group, chaired by the Interim Health Officer, Dr. Russell Moy, and co-led by Harford County’s Director of Emergency Management, Edward Hopkins, was developed comprising of County agencies including the Health Department, Emergency Management, the Sheriff’s Office, State’s Attorney’s Office, Community Services, Harford County Public Schools, University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, and volunteer fire and first responders. The group will designate $140,000 to create a 24/7 telephone line for central intake, navigation, and recovery. The telephone line will be staffed by peer recovery specialists, with support from healthcare professionals throughout the County, including Addiction Connections Resources (ACR).
Interim Health Officer, Dr. Russell Moy, explains, “This team will serve as a well-publicized, easy-to-reach, central access point committed to assuring on-demand comprehensive screenings, assistance with navigation through the treatment system and follow-up with recovery support care coordination. This project is critical for those who have substance use disorders in Harford County. With the support and assistance from ACR, this plan will improve people’s first point of contact with the healthcare system by enhancing early identification and intervention for those with substance use disorders.”
The remainder of the money will go towards providing first responders an adequate supply of Naloxone, a drug used to reverse the effects of an overdose.
Director of Emergency Services, Edward Hopkins, says “Unfortunately, Harford County law enforcement and other agencies have taken on the role of first responders and identifiers for overdoses and cardiac arrests associated with heroin overdoses. This is exactly why it’s imperative that our first responders are equipped with Naloxone. Our goal is to reduce overdose deaths by 20% and we hope this is an effort in the right direction.”
“We welcome this additional funding from Governor Hogan’s Opioid Operational Command Center to help Harford County save lives and fight this unprecedented wave of opioid addiction affecting our families and communities,” County Executive Barry Glassman said.
For more information about this topic, please visit the health department’s website at www.harfordcountyhealth.com