Allegheny County to receive about $15 million to fight opioid crisis |

Allegheny County to receive about $15 million to fight opioid crisis

Jamie Martines

A grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will help the Allegheny County Health Department expand staff and resources dedicated to tackling the opioid crisis, officials announced Wednesday.

The county will receive about $15 million over three years through the Overdose Data to Action grant.

“Although overdose deaths have decreased the past year, there’s still far more work to do,” Allegheny County Health Department Deputy Director of Public Policy and Community Relations Otis Pitts said during a health department board meeting Wednesday.

The grant will be used to support programs that use data to inform how resources are used.

This includes making sure the overdose treatment drug naloxone is distributed to high-need areas and working with health care providers to improve education around treatment options and safe-prescribing practices, Pitts said.

The grant will also help to fund a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program intended to help people connect with treatment programs before they are arrested.

Pitts said the health department hopes to expand that program in cooperation with Pittsburgh Public Safety and several suburban police departments by the end of the grant’s first year.

The health department currently employs one full-time county employee and two grant-funded employees to carry out opioid treatment and prevention-related programs, Pitts said. The grant will allow the department to expand its staff to over a dozen employees.

Accidental overdose deaths in Allegheny County dropped 41% last year, from 737 deaths in 2017 to 432 deaths in 2018.

County officials have attributed that decline in part to better data collection and the availability of naloxone.

The new grant funding will help to keep up that progress, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said in a statement.

“This CDC grant funding will allow ACHD to build on those successes and to do what we do best — work together to find solutions,” Fitzgerald said.

Allegheny County is among 47 states, Washington D.C, two territories, and 16 counties and cities to receive the funding, according to the CDC.

The state Department of Health and the Philadelphia Department of Health also received funding through the grant.

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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