In my last article, I reviewed five main goals for the commissioners from the state of the community address. Today, I want to highlight some of the impactful work we are doing with our Montgomery County Health Department in an effort to combat abuse in our community.
This year, we will continue to expand local recovery support services which are already in place. We’ll continue to work to take full advantage of funding and programming alternatives at the state and federal level. In 2019 Montgomery County received $955,278 in federal, state and local grants to help the county develop and carry out innovative solutions to the local drug abuse crisis, drug abuse prevention, support local health initiatives, enhance emergency planning and aid child support services. We will continue to help coordinate and focus local efforts to combat these issues.
During 2019, fighting substance use in our community grew through local initiatives and community partner collaborations. The Montgomery County Health Department serves as a lead stakeholder by helping identify community needs through data collection. They collect and analyze data from the Indiana State Department of Health and other partner agencies.
Local data collection and sharing of information helps our community partners decide where to best allocate resources and create programming to fight substance use. Improvements in reporting over the last couple of years has made interpreting the data somewhat difficult. For example, Montgomery County saw three fewer deaths in 2019 due to overdose than the previous year; while overdose related admissions to the ER increased. While assumptions can be drawn, the implemented programs and initiatives are helping. We will continue to follow the information, and work towards a downward trend in abuse resulting in both addiction and deaths. It is worth our continued effort and support because we are saving lives by intervening earlier with evidence-based programming that have proven to be successful.
Community collaboration is critical in our effort toward change, as such, the Montgomery County Health Department continues to chair the Opioid Council, a group that is made up of community leaders discussing what is already being done in the community and the gaps in services which need addressed. MCHD works to educate and promote harm reduction services such as community Narcan, STI/HIV and Hepatitis C screenings, sharps disposal and basic vaccinations.
In 2019, the MCHD secured funding that helped develop the Quick Response Team which is run by the Crawfordsville Fire Department responding to overdose victims within 24 to 48 hours. This team also provides outreach and support for those in need of connection to recovery services or family members in need of assistance identifying options for recovery. The health department secured funding through the Montgomery County Community Foundation to develop a recovery resource website for Drug Free Montgomery County. The site, www.drugfreemoco.org, was launched in 2019, providing local resources and information for individuals, families and community members outlining treatment, recovery and prevention services.
Prior to the launch of programs in 2019, the health department surveyed the community on their attitudes and beliefs related to substance use in 2017 and did a comparative survey in 2019. The comparison showed that there has been a shift in the overall attitude and community acceptance of issues related to substance abuse and recovery. This indicates there is a much better understanding of the stigmatization of substance use disorders as well as an understanding of the need to financially support these local efforts. Many thanks to the MCHD for their hard work.
Amber Reed is our Montgomery County Health Department administrator. She works hard alongside her team on a daily basis to create solutions to the very real problem of substance abuse in our community. We are committed to working hard to make a positive impact. It’s not a topic many of us like to discuss, but it is necessary and important work.
Profile: Amber Reed, Health Dep. Admin.: Include photo
Tenure: Health Dept Admin. since 2013
Fun Fact: I am a sports parent – my hobbies include following which ever sports team is in season and eating popcorn for dinner. All of our 4 kids played sports and our youngest is the last in high school and plays three sports and travel softball (free time doesn’t really exist)!
Interesting Fact: My grandfather (a Crawfordsville native) met my grandmother (a Gas City native) when she moved here to become a WUG (Western Union Girl) at the Ben Hur Building. I am a proud grandma to a beautiful little boy named Beau.
Message: We are working very hard to help our community understand the role of public health as an agency and service provider. They can follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MontCoHealth and Instagram @montcohealth765.
John Frey is a Montgomery County Commissioner and can be reached at email@example.com. And check out the Commish Facebook page @montgomerycountycommish.