FLOYD COUNTY — Health officials in Floyd County have secured a grant that they hope will make great strides in preventing drug overdose deaths in the community.
Floyd County was recently named as one of 16 Indiana counties, including Clark, to participate in a statewide effort to detect and prevent overdoses. It will receive $76,500 through IUPUI’s ECHO (Opioid Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) Center, part part of an overall state award of $900,000.
The funding will allow Floyd County organizations including the county health department, coroner’s office, Baptist Health Floyd, Open Door Youth Services, Clark-Floyd Systems of Care, Breakaway Women’s Transitional home, Our Place Drug and Alcohol Services and the IU Southeast Applied Research & Education Center to confront facets of addiction in a new way.
The program includes $25,000 to support public education and outreach through the Floyd County Health Department’s mobile unit, which will be in use about 16 hours a week traveling to targeted areas with higher instances of overdoses. A peer recovery specialist is in training and will travel in this unit and will be available at Our Place and wherever needed in the community.
MeriBeth Adams-Wolf said getting that peer-support piece in place is important to building the capacity to reach people struggling with addiction.
“That’s an exciting move for us to make,” she said, adding that the funding could allow for training of additional peer-support specialists.
The program also will collect data from the hospital, police, and other agencies to create a real-time dashboard to determine which areas may need the most support now. It will be used by a new overdose-fatality review team expected to be in place within the next few weeks.
Adams-Wolf, executive director at Our Place, said the data collection can help them “look at developing results of a good strong needs assessment in the community — like where are the needs showing up, what are the specific issues to be able to really seed some program planning,” she said. “...Just trying to connect the dots for people as much as we absolutely can.”
As of the end of July, there had been 10 overdose deaths from drugs in Floyd County, with another 12 deaths related to alcohol. Floyd County Health Administrator Charlotte Bass said a big part of the mobile units will be to reach out to some families who have lost a loved one due to addiction to determine how best to prevent other losses.
“I’m really excited about the program,” said Floyd County Health Department Administrator Charlotte Bass. “I don’t think there’s been any other agency that I know of that has gone into the home and talked to [families] who have had an individual who’s overdosed and get that data that we need to find out what caused them to use, what can we do to change things in our area, what does our area need?
“I’m really excited about this and I think we’re going to see results in a very short period of time.”
The team is also seeking locations for eight NaloxBoxes, kits containing the opioid reversal drug naloxone, along with instructions for use and a CPR mask. They want the locations to be throughout the community. They will be restocked as the mobile unit travels around the county, or when the health department is notified that the dosage inside needs to be refilled.
The doses are nasally administered and have no side effects if not administered in response to an opioid overdose, said Adams-Wolf.
“They’re going to keep these stocked in areas of the community we feel like are high-traffic areas,” Adams-Wolf said, which could be gas stations, churches, businesses or in outside areas. The goal is to “put these in spots that can be accessed easily at any point of the day.”
Another $23,000 of the funding will go toward education initiatives — an after school program for at-risk youth that focuses on early prevention, a middle-school-targeted prevention program and a media campaign to educate and reduce stigma.