Cleveland, OH,
17:16 PM

The MetroHealth System Receives $1.9 Million Grant to Combat Opioid Epidemic in Cuyahoga County

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded MetroHealth a multiyear grant to combat the opioid epidemic's effects in Cuyahoga County.

The four-year award will establish the MetroHealth First Responders Project (FRP). The project will seek to increase access to naloxone kits countywide, provide education and training to law enforcement and lay responders, and increase access to treatment and recovery for overdose survivors and their families.

Emily Metz, MPH, program coordinator for Project DAWN, will serve as project director of FRP. Working closely with MetroHealth's Office of Opioid Safety and Cuyahoga County Project DAWN, Metz will oversee the creation and implementation of each aspect of the FRP’s strategies to decrease overdoses across Cuyahoga County.

Since 2007, opioid overdose has been the leading cause of injury death across Ohio. In 2016 alone, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s office reported 557 opioid-related deaths, more than doubling the record-setting numbers from 2015.

In recent years, limited funding combined with high demand in communities hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, has resulted in growing shortages and unmet needs for law enforcement agencies. In 2016, agencies requested more than 1,300 intranasal naloxone kits from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. However, its available funding only allowed for the purchase of approximately 900.

The FRP's resources will fill in these gaps and expand access to more communities throughout the region. The project plans to distribute 1,600 additional naloxone kits to opioid users and their families annually. Further, FRP resources will be used to ensure that at least 95 percent of law enforcement agencies across Cuyahoga County are carrying and distributing naloxone by January 2019.

In addition to purchasing and distributing naloxone to more agencies, the program will increase efforts to train citizens on how to reverse overdoses with naloxone. Program staff will offer yearly web-based and in-person training on overdose response and naloxone administration to 100 percent of Cuyahoga County's law enforcement agencies. The grant's funding will also allow Project DAWN to hire another full-time staff member who will expand existing overdose prevention offerings.

The FRP's final goal is providing pathways into treatment for overdose survivors. This objective will be achieved through the FRP’s Hope after Overdose Outreach Project (HOOP). The HOOP team will consist of a social worker and area police officers who will visit survivors' homes within seven days of an overdose. The teams will provide information and direct pathways to treatment, education on overdose response and free naloxone kits. If survivors are prepared to enter treatment, quick response teams will guide them into the treatment process.

For more information about Project DAWN, click here.

To learn more about SAMHSA programs and grants, click here.

About the MetroHealth System

The MetroHealth System, Cuyahoga County’s public health system, is honoring its commitment to create a healthier community by building a new hospital on its main campus in Cleveland. The building, and the 25 acres of green space around it, are catalyzing the revitalization of MetroHealth’s West Side neighborhood.

MetroHealth will break ground on the new hospital in late 2018, using nearly $1 billion it borrowed on its own credit after dramatically improving its finances. In the past five years, MetroHealth’s operating revenue has increased by 44.5 percent and its number of employees by 21 percent. Today, its staff of 7,700 provides care at MetroHealth’s four hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites throughout Cuyahoga County. In the past year, MetroHealth has served 300,000 patients at more than 1.4 million visits in its hospitals and health centers, 75 percent of whom are uninsured or covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

The health system is home to Cuyahoga County’s most experienced Level I Adult Trauma Center, verified since 1992, and the only adult and pediatric burn center in the state of Ohio.

As an academic medical center, MetroHealth is committed to teaching and research. Each active staff physician holds a faculty appointment at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and its main campus hospital houses a Cleveland Metropolitan School District high school of science and health.

For more information, visit