The Oneida County Health Department has been selected as one of only 13 public health agencies selected nationwide to receive a $500,000 grant to implement public health strategies to address drug overdoses.
The Implementing Overdose Prevention Strategies at the Local Level grant was awarded by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The funding will be used to advance several of Oneida County’s Opioid Task Force initiatives to reduce overdose deaths.
“We are thankful to NACCHO and the CDC for awarding us with this funding that will primarily be used to expand the mobile street engagement project recently piloted in Oneida Square,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr. “That project provided boots on the ground, on-demand access to substance use treatment medication and exceeded our expectations, with nearly 100 people started on buprenorphine treatment in just a few weeks. The positive outcomes of this innovative public health approach strengthened our application for this competitive award, as well as our resolve to use these resources to bring this on-demand treatment model to all areas of the county.”
During the time of the street outreach pilot project, Oneida County also partnered with ACR Health, REACH Medical and Upstate Family Health Center (UFHC), to make the same on-demand access to buprenorphine treatment available via telehealth and on-site providers through the establishment of a local satellite Drug User Health Hub site located at ACR Health in Utica. Those seeking same-day buprenorphine medication can contact ACR Health today at 315-793-0661.
ACR Health and UFHC will continue collaboration with Oneida County to expand and enhance the mobile street engagement initiative as a model for a harm reduction approach to substance use treatment that attempts to remove as many obstacles as possible that might prevent a person from accessing and continuing on medication-assisted treatment.
“We are pleased to partner with Oneida County and UFHC to bring Drug User Health Hub services to Oneida County and to lead the mobile street engagement project,” said Roberto Gonzalez, Prevention Director of Harm Reduction Services, ACR Health. “We are confident that our deep experience and proven success in working nonjudgmentally with people who use drugs will contribute to the continued success of this program and ultimately save more lives.”
ACR Health will provide harm reduction services and link people to treatment and other related services using peer recovery specialists, while UFHC providers will offer substance use treatment medication, as well as medical treatment for acute care needs such as wounds and abscesses, Hepatitis C and other untreated chronic health conditions. Outreach will be conducted in both urban and rural high-risk areas identified in the county’s Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP) surveillance.
“Buprenorphine is a safe and effective treatment for opioid use disorder, but so many people with this disorder do not receive it, or other medical treatment,” said Richard Williams, Director of Nursing Services, Upstate Family Health Center. “We are excited to be a part of an initiative that knocks down the barriers to treatment and medical care that can mean the difference between life and death for so many people.”
Oneida County will work also with its Opioid Task Force partners to expand and implement additional initiatives that address all of the grant’s recommended strategies including establishing linkages to substance use treatment, equipping providers to make evidence-based treatment decisions, enhancing overdose surveillance and data sharing, fostering collaborations with public health and public safety, addressing stigma surrounding substance use disorder and implementing harm reduction activities to reduce the risks associated with drug use.