City Wins $700,000 For Drug Overdose Fight
Opioid program has saved 15 lives in 2019; new funding will expand program.
Murphy, chair of the City-County Heroin, Opioid and Cocaine Task Force, appeared before the Common Council’s Public Safety & Health Committee to secure formal approval to accept a $734,899 grant from a national association to address overdoses.
The funds would support a pilot effort known as the Milwaukee Overdose Response Initiative (MORI) led by the Milwaukee Health Department (MHD). The effort, based out of the Station 31 of the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD) at 2400 S. 8th St. in the city’s Lincoln Village neighborhood, is focused on engaging all overdose survivors with treatment and recovery services to reduce fatalities, increase access to treatment and decrease emergency services usage.
Prior to the pilot, Murphy said individuals were given a postcard-size note with a phone number on it. “We felt that was inadequate,” said the council’s opioid crisis expert, noting that individuals would get an expensive treatment of naloxone (Narcan) to reverse an overdose and sometimes just walk out of the ambulance.
Murphy and Ald. Jose G. Perez sponsored a $100,000 budget amendment in the 2019 budget to get the pilot started. The program is modeled after a similar effort in Cincinnati, Ohio.
MFD Captain Michael Wright said the effort has saved more than 15 lives in 2019. “I don’t want to get out over my skis right away, but we are making a difference, it is working,” said Wright.
“We have a number of individuals, quite honestly, they would probably be dead today if it wasn’t for the efforts of both the city and county, the fire department and health department,” said Murphy.
Wright said MFD is uniquely suited to host the pilot and convene the partners. “It isn’t working because we came up with some magical idea that started working right away,” said Wright. He said MFD is perceived as a neutral party, has access to important databases and has an existing community paramedic program. “We got people that are competitors to work side by side.”
Listed as subgrantees on the grant request in addition to the MFD, MHD, Medical College of Wisconsin and Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division are Staff One, Community Medical Services, WisHope, UW-Milwaukee, R1/ImageTrend, Share Training and Center for Gender and Justice.
“It’s really helping us expand and increase capacity beyond the grant as well,” said Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik.
The grant will come from the National Association of County and City Health Officials. The funds run through July 31st, 2020.
“You made our city proud,” said Ald. Mark Borkowski of Wright. He lamented that the media often latches onto things that go wrong, instead of many city employees who go above and beyond the call of duty. “I just want to thank everyone involved.”
One of those unsung heroes is MHD public health analyst Courtney Geiger. Murphy singled her out for her work in writing the grant application.
“This is a great day. This is something we should be bragging about,” said Perez of the pilot’s success. He said he looked forward to it going city wide.
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Related Legislation: File 191242
- Wisconsin Accepting Applications to Pilot New Approach to Treating Substance Use Disorders - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Jul 6th, 2020
- Milwaukee County Headed for Record Overdoses in 2020 - Edgar Mendez - Jun 19th, 2020
- Retaliating Against a Witness Who Provided Information to Law Enforcement About Neopit Woman’s Drug Dealing Leads to Prison Sentence - U.S. Department of Justice - Jun 16th, 2020
- Grant extension of $500K good news for MKE’s efforts to combat opioid epidemic - Ald. Michael Murphy - Jun 10th, 2020
- Baldwin Requests Funding to Study Opioid Crisis - Isiah Holmes - May 22nd, 2020
- U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Jeanne Shaheen Lead Colleagues in Calling for Increased Opioid Funding in Coronavirus Relief Package - U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin - May 19th, 2020
- Award-Winning Wisconsin Enhanced Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Changes Prescribing Culture, Drives Down Opioid and Controlled Substance Prescribing - Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services - May 11th, 2020
- Opioid Treatment Facility Sees Uptick During Pandemic - Isiah Holmes - Apr 9th, 2020
- Wisconsin Physician Agrees to Pay Financial Penalties to Resolve Allegations That He Prescribed Opioids Illegally and Violated False Claims Act - U.S. Department of Justice - Apr 5th, 2020
- County Overdose Deaths Up 50% in 2020 - Graham Kilmer - Apr 5th, 2020
Read more about Opioid Crisis here