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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.


County Executive Will Host Three Public Safety Forums with Newly Confirmed Baltimore County Chief of Police Melissa Hyatt

The County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr. and Police Chief Melissa Hyatt will use this opportunity to provide brief remarks, but the goal is to listen to the residents and business owners in the County. County residents are invited to attend any of the forums that will be held in the County.

"These will be more listening sessions than us speaking," said Johnny Olszewski, Jr. "Chief Hyatt is excited to get out and meet the community and we want to hear from our communities about public safety concerns and collaborations." 

Attend a Public Safety Community Forum

All forums will begin promptly at 6:30 and end at 8 p.m.  

West County Policing Town Hall 
Wednesday, June 19
Randallstown Community Center
3505 Resource Drive
Randallstown, Maryland 21133

East County Policing Town Hall 
Monday, June 24
CCBC Dundalk, Community Theatre
7200 Sollers Point Road,
Dundalk, Maryland 21222

Central County Policing Town Hall 
Tuesday, June 25
Maryland State Fairgrounds, Fasig-Tipton Building
Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland 21093

If you have special translation needs for hearing or language, please email countynews@baltimorecountymd.gov.

The presentations for these Town Halls are available for review.


Comedic, Silent Film-Style PSA Encourages Residents to Recycle Correctly

Members of the County’s Recycling staff have won a 2019 Telly Award and a 2019 National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC) Blue Pencil and Gold Screen Award for their contributions to the creation of Baltimore County’s comedic, silent film-style recycling PSA, “Tangled Up!

Telly Award

Communications Specialist Jeanette Garcia Polasky, Public Information Specialists Rashida White and Anne Marshall, and interns Jahi Thomas and Natalie Adachi were among the 11 County employees who worked on the PSA that earned them a Silver Telly Award in the Social Video, General-Public Service and Activism category. Other 2019 Silver Award winners include Verizon Media, The Humane Society of the United States and the National School Boards Association.

Receiving over 12,000 entries from all 50 states and five continents, the Telly Awards honors excellence in video and television across all screens and is judged by more than 200 leaders from video platforms, television, streaming networks and production companies, including Vice, Vimeo, Hearst Digital Media, BuzzFeed and A&E Networks.

Blue Pen and Gold Screen Award

This June, Garcia Polasky, White, Thomas and Adachi will accept a NAGC Blue Pen and Gold Screen Award in the Public Service Announcement category for “Tangled Up!” at a reception in Arlington, Virginia, where they will find out if they won first or second place, or an Award of Excellence.

According to NAGC, their annual international awards program recognizes superior government communication products, and those who produce them, with awards in over 40 categories.

About the PSA Video

Produced in-house and released on America Recycles Day 2018, “Tangled Up!” demonstrates why items such as plastic bags and clothing, known in the recycling industry as “tanglers,” are not accepted by recycling programs across the country. Tanglers get caught in the equipment at the County’s Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and must be cut off of by hand, one by one, in order for operations to resume.

“I want to congratulate our recycling staff on their innovative, creative and witty public service announcement,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr. “This is a well-deserved recognition that hopefully will encourage more people to recycle, and recycle responsibly.”

“Tangled Up!” has been shared on social media and blogs by more than 170 government, business, nonprofit and media organizations, and industry professionals on four continents.

Ways to Watch

Watch Baltimore County’s award-winning recycling PSA on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or the County’s website.


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017