By Wayne Allen
The Portsmouth City Health Department recently received a five-year grant from the Ohio Department of Health, for prescription drug overdose prevention.
“The grant is funded through the Center for Disease Control and four years ago they only gave out two prescription drug overdose prevention grants and they were pilot programs,” said Lisa Roberts, public health nurse with the Portsmouth City Health Department. “We (Scioto County) were chosen to be a pilot county, we called our grant in 2010 ‘a prescription for community recovery’ and we had that pilot project for four years.”
Roberts said with the pilot project, Scioto County was the first rural county in Ohio to implement best practices for replication throughout the state to reduce the number of fatal overdoses.
“Out of that effort (grant) came several important programs that’s been replicated throughout the state. With this grant we changed state law with House Bill 93 that eliminated our pill mills. We implemented Ohio’s first Naloxone overdose program, which has now been replicated in seven other counties,” Roberts said. “These efforts bolstered us so we were in good standing as a (Scioto County Health) coalition and made us then a prime candidate for the Drug Free Communities Support Program which is federal, which we got.”
She said the initial grant lead to a lot of things for Scioto County.
“What we did also influenced the way other counties managed their prescription drug and heroin problems,” Roberts said.
She said the health department considers it to be an honor to be a pilot project. She said it means the health department is trusted to try a program that can influence the way the rest of the state conducts programs.
“The grant ran out (at the end of 2013) and a new competitive cycle for the grant was announced. We helped all of these other counties get up and running with these new programs, so what we did is worked ourselves into an extremely competitive situation,” Roberts said.
According to Roberts, there were 20 applications for the Ohio Department of Health to consider with enough funding for three programs.
“The original pilots were Montgomery and Scioto County, and Montgomery County did not get refunded,” Roberts said. “We are still calling the grant ‘a prescription for community recovery’ and we were funded for five more years.”
She said the grant is valued at $65,000 a year.
When asked about the goals for this grant cycle Roberts said, “we are going to continue to try programs to reduce substance use and abuse. It will act in concert with the drug free communities support program, which focuses on youth up to age 18. It works in conjunction with HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) and we included our Naloxone program. We are also working with juvenile court to establish a family court.”
She said through the grant counties will receive technical assistance when they establish a Naloxone program.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.