Hogan Administration Details $2M in Spending to Fight Heroin - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Hogan Administration Details $2M in Spending to Fight Heroin

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP/WBOC) - As Maryland officials divide up a little more than $2 million to fight heroin addiction, roughly half the money will go toward restoring a Chestertown treatment center and creating an overdose survivor program in Baltimore, Gov. Larry Hogan's administration announced Tuesday.
 
Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, who leads the state's Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force, said $800,000 will go toward restoring the 40-bed capacity at the A.F. Whitsitt Center, a residential treatment facility in Chestertown. The funding will enable an additional 240 patients to get treatment each year at the Kent County facility on the Eastern Shore.
 
He also announced $300,000 for creating a pilot overdose survivor outreach program in Baltimore in hospital emergency departments.
 
The allocations were announced in an interim report from the task force.
 
Hogan, a Republican, created the task force after hearing repeated concerns from residents throughout the state about the scourge of heroin addiction during his campaign for governor last year.

"During the campaign, the Lt. Governor and I visited every corner of the state and everywhere we traveled, we heard the same tragic stories of how the heroin and opioid epidemic was destroying families and communities," Governor Hogan said. "Over the last six months, the Task Force has held six regional field summits and spoken with hundreds of Marylanders who have lost loved ones to the disease of addiction, as well as treatment providers, educators, public health and law enforcement officials, and other vested stakeholders. With the release of the Interim Report today, we take a step forward in combating our state's heroin crisis, and I look forward to implementing the 10 recommendations right away."
 
"This is going to be a long-term struggle to try to turn that tide back," Rutherford said.
 
Another $500,000 in grants is being directed to local health departments to support training in the use of Naloxone, which counters the effects of an overdose. Rutherford also noted $124,600 for the Ocean City Police Department to fund license plate reader technology to target heroin entering Maryland across state lines. He said Maryland has a heroin crisis statewide, but the Eastern Shore appears to have more of a problem per capita.
 
In May, the state health department announced that Maryland had a 21 percent increase in fatal drug overdoses 2014, compared to the year before. The department said large increases in deaths involving heroin and fentanyl were responsible for the overall increase in opioid-related deaths. The number of fentanyl-related deaths more than tripled between 2013 and 2014, from 58 in 2013 to 185 in 2014. Fentanyl is a powerful narcotic that can kill by inhibiting breathing.

The report also noted that 2,380 of the 5,000 Evzio naloxone kits, donated to the state by Kaléo Pharmaceuticals, have been distributed to individuals most at risk of heroin overdoses. Evzio is the only Naloxone auto-injector (similar to an epi-pen) that is FDA-approved for use by laymen to reverse a suspected opioid overdose. Naloxone is widely used by law enforcement, first responders, and emergency rooms to treat opiate overdoses and has been credited with saving numerous lives in just the past year.
 
The interim report also makes 10 recommendations that can be implemented quickly at nominal cost. They include several steps directed at young people to raise awareness about the dangers of heroin.

Serving on the Heroin Task Force, and listening to people across Maryland, proved the need for strong action and leadership to confront this public health tragedy," said Delegate Brett Wilson of Washington County, a member of the Task Force and an assistant state's attorney. "Those afflicted by this disease are not statistics. They are very real people and, thankfully, the governor has set in motion a mechanism to transform how we treat, talk about, and bring to light this problem. With Lt. Gov. Rutherford's ability to disseminate the mass of information we gathered, we see in the Interim Report recommendations that can have an immediate positive effect while the Task Force works toward the final product.
 
The task force is scheduled to release a final report in December with further recommendations. It is due to Governor Hogan by December 1.

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