Officials Combat Drug Overdoses

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MAYVILLE – There’s a new effort underway in Chautauqua County to respond to non-fatal overdose events with support and resources for recovery.

The program, Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP), will connect people who have experienced an overdose with a peer from the Mental Health Association within 48 hours.

The project began in Jamestown this week. If the program is successful, county officials hope to expand efforts to all of Chautauqua County.

Over the past year, the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services (CCDHHS) has been working to engage law enforcement and emergency responders in a program that provides real-time surveillance and mapping of known and suspected overdose events.

The ODMAP was developed and is operated by the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Program. The program is available nationwide, free of charge to public officials who aim to gather better data on fatal and non-fatal overdoses in their communities, and to design meaningful response plans for citizens in need.

ODMAP’s creators said they intend it to result in better collaboration between public health agencies responding to the opioid crisis, and law enforcement agencies who frequently encounter and respond to overdose events in their communities.

“Getting ODMAP up and running in Chautauqua County has been a goal of our department since the summer of 2017,” stated Christine Schuyler, Chautauqua County Director of Health and Human Services. “We are eager and excited to see how this program can help us respond to the needs of our residents in a meaningful way, while collecting important data that will help us monitor the opioid epidemic.”

“This pilot offers us the opportunity to offer hope to those battling opioid addiction when they are vulnerable and potentially most receptive to the powerful message that treatment works and recovery is possible,” said Patricia Brinkman, Director of the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene.  “The peer recovery coach offers assistance in navigating the service system as well as one on one support throughout the process. The hope is this new approach will increase the number of individuals who choose to enter treatment following overdose,” continued Brinkman.

The process begins when an officer of the Jamestown Police Department enters basic information about the overdose (fatal/non-fatal status, doses of Narcan given, and suspected drug) into the ODMAP website. CCDHHS staff monitor the map daily for overdoses that occur in Jamestown, and request information about the overdose from the police department. When contacted by CCDHHS, the Mental Health Association (MHA) deploys a peer recovery coach to connect with the person and offer services as well as a care package.

Officials said the true value of the interaction is the connection between the peer and the person who overdoses. The peer offers connection to services at MHA and other agencies throughout the community, including providers of Medications for Addiction Treatment (MAT).

Care packages being distributed are a token of support for those interested in getting involved.  The packages and their contents serve as a reminder that help is available and how to access it. The package includes information about local recovery resources, education about recovery, chap stick, and a healthy snack.

“The MHA is excited to be able to use Certified Peer Specialists to connect with our neighbors who have experienced an overdose. We meet people where they are at to develop a path of wellness and recovery. Recent studies have shown that people who connect with peer coaches have reduced rates of relapse and reduced substance use,” commented Steven Cobb, Executive Director of the Mental Health Association. “Everyone needs chances to recover.  Our peers will be able to help navigate our treatment system to make recovery easier.  This is a big step forward for recovery in our community.”  

Several law enforcement and emergency response agencies are on board with the ODMAP effort, and work is ongoing to obtain full participation across the county. The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department, the Jamestown Police Department, the Lakewood-Busti Police Department, and Alstar Ambulance Services were a few of the early adopters in the County.

The ODMAP Peer Response project mirrors similar work done in Erie County. In December of 2018, Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello’s Countywide Alliance for Enforcement and Rehabilitation (CAER) issued a report recommending a number of measures be implemented to better address the county’s drug crisis. One of those recommendations called for the creation of a peer response program in Chautauqua County which has now come to fruition.

Several partners have assisted in the design and implementation of this project, including Alstar EMS, Chautauqua Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council, the Chautauqua County Departments of Emergency Services, Health and Human Services, Mental Hygiene, the County Executive’s, District Attorney’s and Sheriff’s Offices, Chautauqua Opportunities Incorporated, Evergreen Health Services, Erie County Department of Health, HOPE Chautauqua, Jamestown Police Department, Mental Health Association of Chautauqua County, New York State Department of Health, UPMC Chautauqua, and Southern Tier Emergency Medical System, as well as various police and fire agencies throughout the county.

The ODMAP Peer Response project is supported by 1 NU90TP921994 (Public Health Opioid Crisis), funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.

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