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Community Development , Homelessness , State News , Supportive Housing

Strategically Addressing the Opioid Epidemic in New London

27 February 2018
Opioid Action Team of the Health Improvement Collaborative of Southeast Connecticut

Co-Authors of this blog are Elizabeth Roberts, Policy Analyst and Terry Nowakowski, Chief Operating Officer at Partnership for Strong Communities 

The opioid epidemic is devastating many of our nation’s cities and towns. Like other states in the Northeast, Connecticut is applying strategies to address the crisis. The Opioid Action Team of the Health Improvement Collaborative of Southeast Connecticut is an established team of caring professionals working at various levels to address the opioid crisis in their city.  The Opioid Action Team just received a grant from the University of Baltimore that will allow them to have a few trained recovery navigators manning the phones and providing outreach within the community. They’ll assess how far into addiction each caller is and build a relationship with each caller. Because of the navigators' position as the go-to people for treatment, they will have exclusive access to a variety of local providers. When a person who calls in says they’re ready for treatment, the navigator will be able to get it done — no phone tag or weeks long wait time will be necessary.

Jeanne Milstein from the City of New London, and Jennifer Muggeo from Ledge Light Health District are leading this effort. The Opioid Action Team engages twenty-nine organizations “to create and enhance conditions in our community that lead to sustained support for a continuum of care through a person’s recovery journey”.  

The Opioid Action Team has pinpointed key areas for improvement. Foremost, the team has begun to create a “Coordinated Access to Treatment and Recovery Support Services” network that links homeless individuals who have Opioid Use Disorders (OUDs) to housing opportunities. Members of the Opioid Action Team are enhancing existing projects and programs, such as the incorporation of Recovery Coaches into Lawrence and Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department through the support of Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery and Yale New Haven/Lawrence and Memorial Hospital. Equally important, Alliance for Living instituted a “syringe access program.”

The Opioid Action Team also strives to combat the discrimination against people with OUDs through multiple modes of communication. Advocacy and education will assist in addressing the lack of access to healthcare, and insurance coverage for this population. The team also promotes an increased availability and distribution of Naloxone to prevent opiate overdoses.   

Check out the Opioid Action Team Plan.   

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