Barnstable County Awarded Three Grants to Fight Opioid Epidemic

BARNSTABLE – The Barnstable County Department of Human Services has recently been awarded three new grants to support county wide efforts to address the opioid epidemic. 

“Similar to what’s happening in Massachusetts, some of our epidemic spike that we’ve seen over the past five to six years has leveled off a little bit. So, there isn’t that increase year after year of people dying from opioids. It’s still a very serious problem, but the rate of increase has leveled off,” said Barnstable County Director of Human Services Beth Albert.

“It continues to be a problem. Narcan is being distributed and used more, so that may be saving more people’s lives, but it continues to be a very serious public health problem.”

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has contributed $20,000 for a bulk purchase of Narcan in response to Cape Cod’s high rate of opioid-related deaths. The money will also go towards support the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod and first responders across Barnstable County.

“Senator Cyr was advocating for some funding through the Department of Public Health coming to Barnstable County for bulk Narcan purchase. So, we received a $20,000 grant to purchase bulk Narcan and that will be distributed to one community-based group who gives out Narcan and does overdose education and Naloxone distribution,” Albert explained.

“Also, we’re going to be working with the first responders, primarily the police chiefs, to disperse Narcan to first responders.”

To study the feasibility of replicating the Plymouth County Outreach Overdose Follow Up program in Barnstable County, the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health has awarded the county with another $20,000. The overdose follow-up model is a collaboration between public safety, health and human service agencies.

Bank of America has contributed a $10,000 award to the county to Support the effort to raise public awareness of the Good Samaritan Law through video and print materials.

In 2012, Massachusetts passed the 911 Good Samaritan Law to encourage people to call 911 during an overdose emergency.  The The donation marks the third award to Barnstable County from Bank of America in support of public education of the Good Samaritan Law. 

The funds will be used to produce materials for use by community partners, law enforcement officers, and emergency responders, and to fund public service announcements delivered via social media, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

“We want to have a community response and community services that can really support people in recovery. That’s one of the things that we’ll be focusing on in the next year or two – building this recovery community and supporting people in recovery,” Albert said.

By TIM DUNN, News Center

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