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Keyword: opioid

Olszewski Administration will also pursue public health, environmental legislation this session

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski will again make the fight for school construction and education funding as the top priorities of his legislative agenda for the upcoming 2020 General Assembly session. The push for education funding will be part of a robust, legislative agenda that also includes public safety initiatives, environmental efforts and measures related to public health.

“We need to secure the critical investments in our schools, our neighborhoods, and our communities that will make a difference for both this generation and the next,” Olszewski said. “Our legislative agenda this year is focused on expanding upon the progress we have already made in order to build a better Baltimore County for all with stronger, more vibrant, and more sustainable communities for years to come.”

"Baltimore County's residents want and deserve strong, safe, and growing communities — and that's exactly what this agenda is about. We're committed to working together to bring results for the people of Baltimore County,"  said Baltimore County Delegation Chair, Delegate Pat Young.

The Olszewski Administration’s 2020 legislative agenda includes:

Investing in our Schools and Classrooms
Baltimore County has funded $242 million in shovel-ready school construction projects. These projects cannot move forward without increased State investment and additional needs remain, including several Baltimore County high schools.

Building on his efforts in the 2019 session, County Executive Olszewski will continue to lead the fight for passage of the Built to Learn Act.

Investing in our Educators and Students
Baltimore County invested over $900 million in public education in FY2020, more than $35 million more than required under Maryland’s Maintenance of Effort law. This is a record investment – but we must continue to do more to ensure every student graduates ready for college or a career.

Recognizing the support Baltimore County has already put forward, County Executive Olszewski will work with legislators to enact the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission.

Enhancing Regional Public Safety Initiatives
The Baltimore County Police Department works with neighboring jurisdictions to target violent crime through the Warrant Apprehension Task Force and Regional Auto-theft Task Force. Both programs are successful but under-resourced.

Baltimore County will propose a State-funded matching grant program for inter-jurisdictional law enforcement initiatives.

Creating Innovative Solutions to the Opioid Crisis
Baltimore County had the second highest number of opioid-related deaths in Maryland in 2018. In partnership with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, County Executive Olszewski convened a workgroup, which recommended the creation of a “Hub and Spoke” treatment model similar to a system used with great success in Vermont.

Baltimore County will propose a State-funded pilot program which follows this model, integrating substance abuse treatment with general healthcare and wellness services.

Protecting Those Who Serve Us
Maryland’s “move over” law currently offers insufficient protection for our first responders and work crews. More than 3,500 people have been injured and 46 people have been killed in work zone crashes across Maryland from 2014-2018 according to SHA. Virginia recently addressed this issue by passing a law to treat a move-over infraction as reckless driving, with a maximum fine of $2,500.

Baltimore County will propose that the State enact a statewide provision similar to Virginia’s, to better protect those who serve us.

Improving County Parks & Playgrounds
The State’s Community Parks and Playground Program restores existing parks and also creates new park and green space systems – but the two Maryland counties without municipalities, including Baltimore County -- are currently excluded from participation in the program.

Baltimore County will explore efforts to expand the program’s eligibility requirements so residents can better benefit from Maryland’s ongoing investment in parks and green space.

Protecting Our Waterways
Toxic chemicals can contaminate local water supplies, costing millions of dollars and taking years to clean up. The chemicals perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) in firefighting foams have been linked to the contamination of water sources and cancerous diseases, and several states have sued chemical manufacturers.

Baltimore County will propose a statewide ban on the use of these chemicals in firefighting foams for training purposes.

Addressing Illegal Truck Traffic
Large trucks often travel on unauthorized roads to avoid tolls or to save time, and local communities suffer as a consequence. Technology offers an efficient mechanism to curb this practice.

Baltimore County will propose enabling State legislation to install traffic cameras that will monitor streets for unauthorized truck traffic. Violators will pay fines for straying from authorized truck routes, significantly reducing illegal truck traffic in County neighborhoods and improving quality of life for affected residents.

Revitalizing our Communities
In 2018, Maryland created a Community Development Program Fund to provide financial assistance to community development projects.

Baltimore County will ask the State to invest $5 million annually into the fund to aid jurisdictions as they help to create vibrant communities.


 Baltimore County Officials Will Recognize National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

On Saturday, October 26, Baltimore County officials will recognize National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, a nationwide initiative organized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to highlight safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs in communities, while raising awareness about the disease of prescription drug addiction.

On National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, residents are encouraged to safely dispose of out unwanted or expired medications, including prescription opioids, such as Percocet, OxyContin or Vicodin, at predetermined, approved locations. The full list of approved sites is available at takebackday.dea.gov

We Have a Moral Imperative

“Each overdose death means the loss of a son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, neighbor and friend. We have a moral imperative to do everything within our power to respond to this devastating epidemic,” County Executive Olszewski said. “This day—and every day—is take back day in Baltimore County and we urge residents to dispose of their medications and help save lives.”

Rates of prescription drug misuse have been steadily increasing. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. Removing the presence of unwanted or unused prescription medications from the home helps ensure the safety of family and friends.

Year-round Prescription Return Boxes

Baltimore County has also introduced permanent, year-round prescription return boxes at 10 locations throughout the county to allow individuals to safely and anonymously return any expired or unused medication—with no questions asked. The drug drop boxes are located at:

  • Baltimore County Police Baltimore County Police Precinct 1 Wilkens - 901 Walker Avenue, 21228 
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct 2 Woodlawn - 6424 Windsor Mill Road, 21207
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct  3 Franklin - 606 Nicodemus Road, 21136 
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct 4 Pikesville - 215 Milford Mill Road, 21208
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct 6 Towson - 115 W. Susquehanna Avenue, 21204  
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct 7 Cockeysville - 111 Wight Avenue, 21030 
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct 8 Parkville - 8532 Old Harford Road, 21234
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct 9 White Marsh - 8220 Perry Hall Boulevard, 21236
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct 11 Essex - 216 North Marlyn Avenue, 21221 
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct 12 Dundalk – 428 Westham Way, 21224 

“I urge parents and guardians to take inventory of their medicine cabinet and secure all medications that are genuinely needed,” said Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, Director of the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services. “When we don’t take these necessary precautions, we could inadvertently open the gateway to addiction.”

Statistics and Efforts

Baltimore County has the second highest number of overdose deaths in the state—in 2018, 348 people died from opioid-related overdoses, up from 323 in 2017.

The Olszewski Administration has made efforts to combat the opioid epidemic a priority including: 

  • Announcing the placement of overdose awareness signs around the County in an effort to shine light on the opioid epidemic and reduce the stigma often associated with the disease of addiction;
  • Appointing Baltimore County’s first Opioid Strategy Coordinator to spearhead efforts to address the crisis across the government; and
  • Convening the Baltimore County Opioid Response Working Group, who recently released its draft report (PDF), outlining 11 recommendations as the County continues its efforts to combat overdose deaths, expand access to treatment and prevent addiction.

“The impact of opioid abuse in our communities is significant. This day reminds all of us to reduce the possibility of our unused medication harming our family members or anyone else,” Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa R. Hyatt said.

CVS Plays an Active Role

CVS Health plays an active role nationally and locally in supporting safe medication disposal. This week, the company announced that all CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide will offer customers a free safe medication disposal option, beginning in 2020. The company will add 1,000 in-store safe medication disposal units to the more than 1,700 units currently in CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide, including in Baltimore County. It will also donate up to 400 additional units to local police departments across the country, in addition to the more than 990 units already donated to law enforcement. Together, the existing medication disposal units have collected more than 1.1 million pounds of unwanted or expired medications. 

Additionally, beginning next year, all CVS Pharmacy locations that do not offer a safe medication disposal kiosk will begin to offer DisposeRx® packets at no cost to patients filling an opioid prescription for the first time.

“Our Safe Medication Disposal efforts allow people to easily get rid of unneeded medications—including controlled substances—at CVS Pharmacy and other locations in their community, getting opioids out of medicine cabinets where they could be diverted or misused,” said Thomas Moriarty, Chief Policy and External Affairs Officer, CVS Health. “Providing more options for proper disposal of unused medications in our stores and in the home is just one of the ways we're working to help combat prescription opioid misuse and build healthier communities.”

“We’re proud to link arms with community leaders and local law enforcement to safeguard the health and well-being of our neighbors,” said Thomas B. Smyth, president and CEO of University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center. “Our fervent hope is that, by making these designated safe drop boxes available to the community-at-large, we are helping area families avoid the physical trauma and the heartache associated with opioid overdose. One more overdose death is one more too many. We are called to help ‘Take Back’ our community’s health.”

If you or a loved one is suffering from an alcohol, tobacco or drug addiction, help is available. Call the Department of Health at 410-88-REACH (410-887-3224).


Outlines Key Recommendations to Accelerate the County’s Response to the Opioid Epidemic

The Opioid Response Working Group convened by County Executive Johnny Olszewski today released its draft report (PDF), which identifies 11 recommendations the County should consider as it continues its efforts to combat overdose deaths, expand access to treatment and prevent addiction.

The recommendations fall into seven categories, including:

  1. Stigma
  2. Prevention
  3. Treatment
  4. Recovery
  5. Family support
  6. Criminal justice
  7. Harm reduction

The draft report and link to the public comment survey are available online. Members of the public have the opportunity to provide feedback on the recommendations until Wednesday, October 2, and a final report will follow.

On Track for Fewer Overdose Deaths

“I’m encouraged that numbers so far this year show that we’re on track for fewer overdose deaths, but every overdose death means the loss of a son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, neighbor and friend. We have a moral obligation to direct our resources toward evidence-based strategies that will save lives and help people overcome the disease of addiction,” Olszewski said. “I’m grateful to the Working Group members for their efforts thus far and I look forward to hearing the public’s response to the proposed recommendations.”

Baltimore County has the second highest number of overdose deaths in the state—in 2018, 348 people died from opioid-related overdoses, up from 323 in 2017. Olszewski’s Transition Team made a number of recommendations (PDF) related to tackling the opioid epidemic, including the appointment of an Opioid Strategy Coordinator to spearhead efforts to address the crisis across the government.

About the Opioid Response Working Group

The Opioid Response Working Group was announced in May, and the group gathered public input through an online survey and two public meetings, as well as information from experts and stakeholders.

“The working group members were delighted to serve and are very grateful to the members of the public who came forward with their insights,” said John Chessare, President and CEO of GMBC HealthCare and chair of the Opioid Response Working Group. “We look forward to working with the County in implementing the recommendations to further reduce opioid addiction and its effects on our community.”

The Working Group has received technical support from staff at the Baltimore County Department of Health, and faculty and students at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with support from the Bloomberg American Health Initiative.


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017