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Quick Response Teams will make a difference for overdose survivors


News about the opioid epidemic is unavoidable. As overdose rates keep climbing, too often we don’t think about the real people behind the numbers. A new program from MetroHealth’s Office of Opioid Safety is going to change that.

We’re creating two Quick Response Teams that will follow up with overdose survivors and their families shortly after an incident. Part of the Office of Opioid Safety’s Hope after Overdose Outreach Project, the Quick Response Teams will partner with the Westshore Enforcement Bureau (WEB) and the City of Parma Police Department. The teams will be made up of a MetroHealth social worker and a police officer from the partnering departments, and will work directly in the communities they serve.

One of the toughest aspects of fighting the opioid crisis is connecting people with the resources they need to get well. Survivors are often uncomfortable asking for help and are frequently afraid of stigma or legal punishment. As a result, many people who could take advantage of treatment and community resources stay isolated. That’s where Quick Response Teams will help.

Within a week of a reported overdose, Quick Response Teams will contact survivors directly, often with home visits. Once they make contact, teams will provide information and direct pathways to treatment and education on overdose response, including free overdose-reversing naloxone kits. If survivors are prepared to enter treatment, Quick Response Teams will coordinate community resources to begin that referral process.

Why are we partnering with police agencies on this project? In part, because police officers are often among the first to respond to overdoses. By including partners from WEB and the City of Parma, Quick Response Teams will be able to reach victims with support and resources faster than if we were working alone. Teams will also help build trust in the community. Many overdoses go unreported because witnesses are afraid of punishment. Quick Response Teams will try to minimize these fears in the future.

There’s not one perfect solution to a problem as big as the opioid crisis. But Quick Response Teams – and other programs like it – are going to make a difference in our community, one person at a time.

The Quick Response Teams and the Hope after Overdose Outreach Project are funded by a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. You can read more about the award here.