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Marion County Health Department receives grant to start overdose quick response team

Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 5:25 PM EDT
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MARION COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - Drug overdoses in the state of West Virginia rank the highest in the country, in fact, according to the CDC there were 51.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 2018.

The Marion County Health Department is stepping in to help change that statistic by starting their first overdose quick response team after receiving a grant from the state's Department of Health and Human Resources.

"Even in the middle of our pandemic, we still have the drug crisis, we still have people dying from drug overdoses," the Marion County Health Department administrator, Lloyd White said. "So if we can save one life, then it's certainly worth it," he said.

In order to help save lives, the health department is teaming up with first responders to assist those in need.

"Lets say the rescue squad, EMS, police or fire respond to an overdose call," White said. "Then we are notified, and then our goal is to make contact with that individual within 24 hours and basically make sure that they're aware of the program so that we can offer assistance."

The Monongalia County Health Department was one of the first to receive the grant through DHHR some time back, and they are looking forward to the opportunity this will bring the area.

"This is an opportunity for a collaboration and capacity building throughout both of our counties," Brittany Irick, the special projects grant coordinator of the Monongalia County Health Department said. "We think it's a really good opportunity to intersect with each other and help each other out," she said.

"Substance use disorder is something that affects every county in the state, so the more counties that we can get quick response teams into the more people we can help," Irick said.

Providing to those who need the help is what the Marion County Health Department wants to bring the community through this program.

"When we can show that we have care and compassion for all folks, then I think people are going to be more apt to reach out to you for assistance," White said.

Right now the department has a harm reduction program and two peer counselors to help those who face drug abuse.

Anyone who has experienced an overdose can still contact the health department, but White said the program should begin in the coming weeks.

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