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Boston — The Baker-Polito Administration today announced that it has awarded $500,000 to three community-based health organizations, funded through the Department of Public Health (DPH), to partner with first responders on the `Post-Overdose Follow Up’ program which provides door-to-door opioid overdose prevention education and service referrals for individuals who have been the subject of a 911 overdose call. The announcement came as the Baker-Polito Administration held events on the South Coast to showcase state initiatives.
"Our administration has spent the last two years focused on working with all stakeholders involved to fight the opioid and heroin epidemic from tearing apart more Massachusetts families," said Governor Charlie Baker. "The grants announced today will critically support these three community health programs with direct outreach so that people can get into treatment, and hopefully on the road to recovery."
The following organizations were awarded funds:
Under the program, an addictions specialist from these three health agencies will join with local community first responders, including Emergency Medical Services, fire or police departments to make a home visit shortly after a person overdosed and a 911 call was made. The pair will provide information on opioid treatment programs and encourage the person coping with addiction to receive treatment. If they decline, the team will share harm reduction strategies, such as using naloxone and clean needles, and connect family members or others living in the household to supportive community services in addiction education and naloxone training.
In addition, $40,170 will be used to purchase naloxone, a medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, which can be shared during the home visits.
"Expanding access to lifesaving medication including naloxone and providing treatment options is a critical part of an effective response to the opioid epidemic, and our goal for this program is to help get people into treatment and start on a journey of recovery," said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. "It will also help the family of those with substance use disorders, which is important, because this disease affects those who love them.’"
The Post-Overdose Follow Up program responds to a need identified by the Governor’s Opioid Working Group to increase access to treatment and reduce unmet treatment needs and opioid-related overdose deaths. It is being funded under the Commonwealth’s State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis grant used to expand outpatient opioid treatment, recovery support programs, and community-based overdose prevention programs.
"Sometimes in moments of crisis, there is opportunity to take action,’" said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. "Our hope is that when people coping with substance use disorder are offered help through this program, they will take advantage of this lifesaving opportunity."
The three organizations were selected following a procurement process that attracted 10 applicants. DPH sought organizations with experience working with those with substance use disorder; that had an infrastructure such as clinical supervision and training in place, and that could make direct referrals to key Opioid Use Disorder services and providers. DPH also put a high priority on agencies working in overdose hot-spot communities and those with the ability to offer naloxone training.
Earlier this week, the Baker-Polito Administration announced its second major set of initiatives to address the opioid and heroin epidemic in the Commonwealth. The package included legislative proposals and new administrative initiatives to enhance current education and prevention efforts and to increase access to recovery and treatment options. The plan also includes calling on the federal government to support states like Massachusetts with additional tools to address this public health crisis.
Opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts declined by an estimated 10 percent in the first nine months of this year compared to the first nine months of 2016, according to the third quarterly opioid-related overdose deaths report of 2017 released Monday by DPH. It is the second consecutive quarterly report estimating a decline in the number of opioid-related overdose deaths.
According to the report, fentanyl continues to be a major factor fueling the opioid crisis. The rate of fentanyl present in the toxicology of opioid-related overdose deaths continues to rise, reaching 81 percent this year, while the rate of prescription opioids have dropped by 29 percent since the creation of the state’s prescription monitoring tool, MassPAT.
For more information on the Commonwealth’s response to the opioid epidemic as well as links to the latest data, visit www.mass.gov/opioidresponse. To get help for a substance use disorder, visit www.helplinema.org, or call the Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline at (800) 327-5050.