By: Grant Goetcheus
Last fall, Ohio’s Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that a grant had been awarded to the Findlay Police Department. This grant established a Quick Response Team (QRT). The team will include one Findlay police officer and one QRT Coordinator from Century Health, Inc.
Century Health has partnered with the Findlay Police Department to develop the team. Bill Fedirka, who is currently employed as a peer recovery specialist for Century Health, will assume the duties of the QRT coordinator for the project and will work with Century Health’s Criminal Justice Program Director Cindi Orley.
The goals of the QRT is to provide timely response to those who survive an overdose, in addition to reducing the number of fatal and repeated overdoses. According to Orley, QRT plans on helping the survivors as well as their family connect with the treatments and programs that will benefit them.
Within 72 hours of learning about an opiate overdose, the team visits the survivor and offers education and referrals to drug treatment agencies for assessment, detoxification, on-going addiction treatment and aftercare. A follow-up visit will also be provided by the Hancock Public Health Department to offer further education and provide Naloxone (a drug that rapidly reverses the effects of opioid overdose) to the individual and their family.
“I think Findlay is really looking for new programs to try and address the opioid epidemic. We got a lot of different programs however not everyone that needs them knows all about them. This [QRT] is unique and needed for Findlay,” said Orley.
The first step of the process is finding the people. The team focuses on only those that have overdosed and are the sickest. These are the ones that need the help and need a different solution than going to jail.
Natalie Phoenix is the director of the emergency services at the Blanchard Valley Hospital on the south side of town. They are the first responders when it comes to caring for people suffering from this epidemic.
“By helping identifying patients or individuals have overdosed from opioids and we then obtain a written consent [form] from the individual,” explained Phoenix. “We provide that patient’s information to the QRT. So are role is identification of victims or individuals that have had an overdose.”
The QRT was announced in the fall of 2017 and since then it has made a difference to those that are involved in the team and its efforts to compete this epidemic.
“I’ve seen a positive effect with the staff. We haven’t experienced the patients coming back and saying thank you, but the staff has been extremely receptive to this,” said Phoenix. “They are encouraged that the community is adding addition resources. They see firsthand the impact, and they are happy to solve the problem.”
The grant came that came from DeWine was applied for by Hancock County Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) along with the Findlay Police Department. The grant lasts until June of 2019 and can be renewed if they can show that the QRT is making a positive difference in the community.