Montgomery County Drug Overdose Prevention Task Force
With the opioid epidemic increasing throughout the state of NC in the years 2015-2016 the Montgomery County Health Department received notification they would receive funding from the state to respond to this epidemic. The Health Department received a grant from the Division of Public Health to assist in the formation of a community coalition to gather partners from various disciplines who have a stake in fighting the war on opioids.
The first Task Force meeting was held in December 2016; community partners from the areas of Law Enforcement, Emergency Management Services, the Department of Social Services, and staff from First Health Montgomery Hospital, School Nurses, Pharmacists, Mental Health Professionals, and County Commissioners were all invited to attend the meeting. At the first meeting there was attendance from several professional groups. It was evident that many members of our community agreed the potential for opioid misuse and overdose to become an issue in Montgomery County was real and required attention. The facilitator asked the group “What priority areas should be the main focus and would have the greatest impact on the drug overdose epidemic for our county?” After group discussion 3 core goals were selected: 1. Increase community education and awareness on the growing problem of opioid misuse and overdose. 2. Create a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Resource booklet to help better link drug users and their families to treatment 3. Obtain and distribute naloxone kits to as many law enforcement officers for placement in county patrol vehicles as possible.
The Task Force meetings provided an opportunity to share county specific overdose data generated from NC Detect with key stakeholders. Some data worth noting showed for the whole year of 2016 Montgomery County had 74 counts of Medication or Drug Overdoses; four of the reported overdoses were related to prescription opioid analgesics, and three overdoses were determined to be caused by heroin. In the same year the county saw 107 unintentional poisonings. Other interesting statistics that emerged since the Task Force began showed the during time frame of February 1st 2017 to April 10th 2017 there was a noticeable increase in ED Counts of Poisonings in the two month span; NC Detect reported 40 poisonings during this time period.
The Montgomery County Drug Task Force monitors over dose deaths in the county quarterly as well which has been accomplished with the assistance of Montgomery County Sheriff Chris Watkins and the County Medical Examiner Andy Sanders. During the April 2017 task force meeting Sheriff Watkins communicated that Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office had seen its first drug overdose victim which did not have a positive outcome. Andy Sanders with First Health EMS reported the county had seen one drug overdose with a Narcan© save. The number of overdose deaths and Narcan© saves is ever changing in the county, it is very likely there have been more since the Task Force’s last meeting in April. The Health Department has collaborated extensively with the Sheriff’s Department to get ahead of the opioid issue.
Two of the Task Force goals have been met: an increase in community education through providing educational brochures to all county schools, pharmacies, and the Troy Senior Center and brochure are available at the health department upon request. The second goal accomplished was making Narcan© available in police and sheriff deputy vehicles throughout Montgomery County after the Law Enforcement Drug Overdose Summit held in May 2017. If you would like more information on the opioid crisis or for additional information on the Drug Overdose task force please contact Kimberly Burger at the Montgomery County Health Department at 910-572-1393.