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Keyword: overdose

Signs Around the County Aim to Raise Awareness and Reduce Stigma

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced 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 addiction. Strategically placed in five, high-visibility locations around the County, the signs will display the total number of overdoses and fatal overdoses in the County so far this year.

Photo of Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski speaking

“There’s not a community in our County that hasn’t been touched by the disease of opioid addiction and we have to do everything within our power to raise awareness, increase access to services and save lives. These signs will be a stark reminder that this crisis persists and that we have a responsibility to help our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, neighbors and friends who are struggling,” Olszewski said.

About the Daniel Carl Torsch Foundation

Photo of the overdose awareness sign

The signs were created with support from the Daniel Carl Torsch Foundation and sponsors identified by foundation Executive Director Toni Torsch. Torsch created the foundation following the death of her son, Daniel, from a heroin overdose. The foundation works to raise awareness of opioid addiction and overdose, helps individuals find treatment resources and provides training for individuals to use the overdose-reversal drug naloxone.

“I applaud the Torsch Foundation for partnering with the County to provide awareness and education of overdose death statistics,” said Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, Director of the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services. “Anyone who is facing an opioid addiction or knows someone who is, should reach out and prevent another untimely death by calling our REACH Helpline, 410-88-REACH (410-887-3224).”

Combating the Opioid Epidemic

A medium shot photo of Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski speaking

Each month, the Baltimore County Police Department will update the numbers displayed on the signs, which will be located at the Public Safety Building in Towson, as well as the Dundalk, Pikesville, White Marsh and Woodlawn precinct buildings.

"In my very first meeting with newly-elected County Executive Olszewski, I asked for help breaking a bureaucratic logjam that prevented these signs from going up. He delivered. This is one part of a more robust strategy toward reducing and eliminating opioid abuse," said Councilman David Marks.

Olszewski has taken a number of critical steps in the effort to combat the opioid epidemic. As recommended by his transition team, he included funds in his first budget to create an Opioid Strategy Coordinator position to guide strategy across agencies and ensure a cohesive, comprehensive response.

In addition, he named an Opioid Response Working Group to engage County residents and stakeholders, examine data, assess the County’s current efforts and make recommendations for how the County can continue to ramp up its efforts to address addiction and overdose. The working group will release its draft report for public comment in the coming weeks.

Learn more about the County’s response to the opioid epidemic.


Emergency Room Staff, Certified Peer Counselors and Naloxone: Working Together to Save Lives

As part of a multi-pronged approach to stem the tide of opioid overdose deaths, the Baltimore County Department of Health and elected officials provided naloxone to four Baltimore County hospitals today. Greater Baltimore Medical Center, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, Northwest Hospital and University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center each received approximately 1,200 doses of the medication to distribute to high risk patients being discharged from the hospitals. 

“Naloxone saves lives but only if it is available on the spot, in the moment it is needed,” said Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler. “This important partnership with our hospitals means we empower their peer support counselors to get this life-saving medication into the hands of family and friends who can save the lives of their loved ones.”

Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services presented the hospitals with a supply of NARCAN® (an intra-nasal brand of naloxone) calling it the drug of second chances. “Naloxone works! We know that this drug saves lives when administered in time,” said Dr. Branch. “Making it available in our local emergency rooms can mean giving someone a second chance to change their life trajectory.”

“We are honored to team with Baltimore County in our commitment to reduce opioid deaths,” said Sandy Winfield, MS, FACHE, vice president of Clinical and Support Services at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. “We are grateful for this generous donation that unfortunately, has become vitally important to the cause.”

“I strongly believe that by working together, community hospitals and our county government can make a serious impact,” said Jeffrey P. Sternlicht, MD, FACEP, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center. “We are proud to be a part of this collaborative effort to provide the delivery of this life-saving medication and to help those that are struggling with their addiction.”

Providing naloxone to the four Baltimore County hospitals is just one of the ways the Department of Health is working to reduce the number of deaths caused by opioid overdose. The County has also increased the number of certified peer recovery specialists who focus on helping others to break the grip of addiction. These peer recovery specialists will work with others connected with the four hospitals to provide support, resources and services to people in the community as well as those who have been treated in local emergency rooms for addiction-related issues.   

Distribution of naloxone is also a part of ongoing training sessions that occur across Baltimore County each month. These free, two-hour sessions provide education to the community about the dangers of illicit opioid use, available resources for those in need of services, and instructions on how to effectively administer the drug to reverse an opioid overdose.

Visit www.baltimorecountymd.gov/odresponse or call 410-887-3224 for a listing of upcoming training dates and locations.


Drug Drop Boxes are Conveniently Located in all Baltimore County Police Precincts

You know how important it is to read the label on your prescription medication and to take it only as directed. But are you also aware of how important it is to properly dispose of medications that you are no longer using? Unused prescription drugs can find their way into the wrong hands – with dangerous and oftentimes tragic consequences.

To help bring attention to this crucial public safety and public health issue, the Baltimore County Department of Health is promoting the national Prescription Drug Take Back Day (Saturday, April 28, 2018) and are reminding county residents that there are Drug Drop Box Locations in police precincts throughout Baltimore County. While the national observance will occur on April 28, Baltimore residents are able to place their expired and unused prescriptions in drug drop boxes throughout the county year round - 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs – the majority of which were obtained directly from family and friends or by having access to the home medicine cabinets of family and friends. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is a safe, convenient and responsible way to clean out your medicine cabinets and dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs and perhaps help prevent drug addiction and potential overdose deaths.

In addition to taking your unused medications to a drug drop box location, you may also dispose of them at home if no specific disposal instructions are given on the prescription drug labeling. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Remove the medicine from its original container and mix it with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or used kitty litter.
  2. Place the mixture in a sealable bag or container to prevent medicine from leaking out.
  3. Place the sealed bag or container in with your household trash.

Don’t forget to scratch out all identifying information on the prescription drug container to make it unreadable. This will help to protect your identity and maintain the privacy of your personal health information. 

By Gregory Wm. Branch, M.D. 
Director of Health and Human Services


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017