The Greene County Opioid Overdose Task Force met Monday night to discuss its three-year strategic plan to address the opioid epidemic across the county.
Megan Neuf, facilitator of the task force, said the 6 to 8 p.m. meeting at the county fairgrounds addressed progress made by the three subcommittees, for supply reduction, treatment and community awareness and prevention.
Neuf is the operations analyst for the program evaluation and research unit at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. She acts as a technical assistance provider for the task force, which is about 1.5 years into existence.
The task force was started by the Greene County commissioners in January 2018 as a means to combat the epidemic. It’s made up of representatives from businesses, nonprofits, human services departments, law enforcement, medical agencies, churches, school districts and other county offices.
“The task force is comprised of an impressive group with a lot of immeasurable experience,” Commissioner Dave Coder said in a news release. “But obviously, there is a great deal of work to do here. We must all work together to fight this epidemic.”
As far as drug supply reduction, Neuf said, law enforcement partners in the county have been focused on prescription drug take-back events.
“That’s been their primary focus right now,” she said.
Commissioner Blair Zimmerman said putting people in jail over and over again for the same types of drug charges costs the county taxpayers.
“You can’t just arrest the problem away and put everybody in jail,” he said. “Even if you could, the cost would be off the charts. You have to take people off the streets that are doing the most damage.”
The treatment subcommittee, Neuf said, presented information on a “needs assessment” that was conducted and put together a resource card for people seeking treatment services. Kate Craig, Greene County’s addiction navigator through Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services, also updated the community about the approximately 30 clients she’s connected with treatment programs.
The task force also discussed countywide naloxone training and a prevention program and curriculum being started in the school districts.
Terry Wiltrout, president of WHS-Greene hospital, also provided an update on the hospital’s new inpatient treatment program that started over the winter, Neuf said.
“It’s giving people more options for rehabilitation,” Zimmerman said. “We’re never going to eliminate it, but we want to make things better as far as treatment, prevention, law enforcement and every aspect of it.”