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Maryland’s Opioid Operational Command Center Working with State Agencies and Local Jurisdictions to Combat Heroin and Opioid Epidemic

Alignment Ensures Engagement in Prevention, Enforcement, and Treatment Efforts

ANNAPOLIS, MD — In the months since Governor Larry Hogan declared a State of Emergency to combat the heroin and opioid crisis, the Opioid Operational Command Center has been working with Maryland state agencies and local jurisdictions to address the epidemic impacting communities across the state. Today, the Maryland Department of Health released its overdose data report for the first quarter of 2017, which showed that opioid-related deaths continue to climb.

“We continue to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to combat this deadly crisis. Our state agencies are aligned and all of Maryland’s local jurisdictions have formed their Opioid Intervention Teams – led by their health officers and emergency managers, they are fully engaged in our prevention and protection efforts,” said Clay Stamp, executive director of the Opioid Operational Command Center. “Each day, I am encouraged to see the momentum building throughout the state in our collective fight against this cruel, nationwide epidemic.”

Last month, the Opioid Operational Command Center, Department of Health, and the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention announced more than $22 million to fight the epidemic, with 80 percent going to Maryland’s 24 local jurisdictions and service providers to fund prevention, enforcement, and treatment efforts throughout the state, including:

  • $4 million total distributed to local Opioid Intervention Teams for each jurisdiction to determine how best to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic, which may expand on current prevention, enforcement, and treatment efforts.
  • $3.2 million to expand treatment beds statewide, as well as a tracking system – the Maryland Healthcare Commission will aid in expediting the certificate of need application process for treatment beds.
  • $2.7 million to improve access to naloxone statewide.
  • $1.6 million to expand use of peer recovery support specialists.
  • $1.4 million for a public awareness campaign to reduce stigma, increase patient-physician communication, and educate Maryland’s school children on the dangers posed by opioids, as well as additional support for local jurisdictions’ prevention efforts.
  • $700,000 to train community teams on overdose response and linking to treatment.

To find out more about additional initiatives receiving funding, read the full press release.

Additional statewide efforts include:

Department of Health

  • Rolled out Maryland Medicaid programs on July 1 that make substance use disorder treatment options more accessible for Marylanders. Chief among them is the ability of large residential treatment centers known as Institutes for Mental Disease to receive Medicaid reimbursement for treatment – erasing a federal prohibition that had served as an impediment to treatment for many people. Under this expansion, certain Medicaid-eligible adults ages 21-64 may have Medicaid pay for up to two non-consecutive, 30-day treatment spans in such facilities. Maryland was the third state in the nation to be granted a waiver to provide these services with federal Medicaid dollars. Additionally, Maryland Medicaid worked with all eight of its HealthChoice managed care organizations to align prescribing with clinical best practices in order to reduce opioid misuse, dependence, overdose, and death in both Medicaid fee-for-service and HealthChoice managed care programs.
  • Expanded access to naloxone, the non-addictive lifesaving drug that can reverse an opioid overdose. On June 1, 2017, the department’s Public Health deputy secretary, Dr. Howard Haft, issued a standing order that allows pharmacies to dispense naloxone to individuals who may be at risk of an overdose or anyone who may be able to help someone who overdoses. Previously, naloxone was available only to those trained and certified under the Maryland Overdose Response Program.
  • Expanded access to Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT), an evidence-based tool designed to identify individuals who have the potential for substance abuse and to provide medical intervention.

Department of Juvenile Services

  • Held its first Opioid Overdose Awareness and Prevention Conference on June 7 in White Marsh, Maryland. In addition to various presentations regarding the opioid epidemic, over 100 attendees were trained in the proper administration of naloxone, the life-saving overdose-reversal drug.

Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services

  • Secretary Stephen T. Moyer selected as vice-chairman of the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and he will become its chairman in June 2018.
  • Trained 175 department parole and probation agents on how to administer naloxone.

Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention

  • Organized upcoming training on regional opioid trends and best investigatory practices for heroin coordinators with the Drug Enforcement Administration-Baltimore District Office.
  • Collaborated with the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Crisis Intervention program coordinators, and other stakeholders to assist in designing training for the judiciary on programming and intervention for justice-involved individuals with substance use disorder.
  • Collaborated with the Department of Health and the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) to further enhance existing non-fatal overdose victim referrals to treatment.
  • Convened a meeting between local county health officials, Safe Streets peer recovery specialists, heroin coordinators from the Eastern Shore region, and representatives from Delaware public health and public safety to coordinate the cross-border opioid response.

Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems

  • Added four questions to the EMS Provider electronic patient data collection (eMEDS) report based on naloxone administration.

Maryland State Police

  • Worked as part of the Carroll County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) initiative with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Westminster Police, and Homeland Security Investigations to investigate a high-level drug dealer in Maryland, sentenced to 40 years in jail for large-scale heroin and cocaine trafficking after prosecution by the Maryland Office of the Attorney General and the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office. For more information, read the full press release.

At the local level, jurisdictions throughout Maryland are involved in both new and ongoing efforts, including:

Anne Arundel County and Annapolis City announced last week that $200,000 of a $287,000 grant from the Hogan-Rutherford Administration will be used to expand the “Safe Stations” anti-opioid initiative across Anne Arundel County and Annapolis City. The Safe Stations program designated each Anne Arundel County and Annapolis City Fire Station, as well as county and city police stations, a safe environment for individuals looking for assistance to start their path to recovery from heroin/opioid addiction. To learn more about Safe Stations, read the full press release.

In Western Maryland, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Day Reporting Center is an alternative to incarceration. It’s an on-site, non-residential program for county residents designed to change an offender’s adverse thinking patterns and attitudes, and improve job skills and job retention. The Sheriff’s Office works with Washington County Emergency Services, the Washington County Opioid Intervention Team, and numerous community organizations to make it a success.

On the Eastern Shore, the Wicomico County Community Outreach Addiction Team (COAT) partners with the State’s Attorney’s office, Peninsula Regional Medical Center, and the Sheriff’s Department in order to link those suffering from a substance use disorder in Wicomico County to the resources they need. The team consists of peer support specialists in recovery who now offer support and guidance to others fighting a substance use disorder.

“The partnership between the Wicomico County Health Department, Sheriff’s Department, and State’s Attorney’s Office bridges the gap between the community and law enforcement,” said Richard J. Brueckner Jr., Senior Assistant State’s Attorney, Opioid Reduction Strategist, Wicomico County. “The COAT Team partnership gives its team members the resources they need to offer vital help at a critical moment in the life of a person with a substance use disorder.”

Before It’s Too Late is the state’s effort to bring awareness to the heroin and opioid epidemic-and to mobilize resources for effective prevention, treatment, and recovery. Marylanders grappling with a substance use disorder can find help at BeforeItsTooLateMD.org and 1-800-422-0009, the state crisis hotline.

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