Developing an Integrated Response to the Opioid Epidemic
The opioid addiction crisis has risen to epidemic levels in the greater Pittsburgh region, where hospitals handled nearly 2,000 overdose cases in 2014. The Allegheny County Health Department’s response marries public health and public safety in an attempt to more effectively incorporate responses from all sectors. FUSE Fellow Colin Dwyer helped convene the various departments and community organizations that deal with the outcomes of the opioid epidemic in order to take a more holistic approach to addressing the problem. His work resulted in a new program administered by the Pittsburgh Emergency Medical Services to leave behind naloxone, a medication that can be used to treat overdose victims. He also identified and engaged several community organizations that were high-potential distribution points for the medication to become part of the county-wide program.