Franklin County Public Health has received a three-year federal grant to enhance and accelerate the community's effort to fight the opiate crisis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Overdose Data to Action Grant brings Franklin County Public Health and its community partners $3.9 million annually for the next three years. The funding will help gather high quality, more comprehensive and timelier data to improve prevention and response efforts.
"On the surveillance side, we will link overdose with risk and protective factor data," Franklin County Health Commissioner Joe Mazzola said. "This will include utilizing data from a variety of agencies that will help us better identify risk factors and social determinants of health information for individuals who suffer from opioid use disorder. We will also expand real-time EMS data collection for increasing linkages to care."
The grant also targets several prevention strategies.
"As part of our prescription drug monitoring program, we will integrate prescribing data with our regional health information exchange, support local hospitals, and work to enhance federally-qualified health centers' use of the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System," Mazzola said. "We will invest in supporting our overdose fatality review initiative, led by Dr. Ortiz, our Franklin County coroner. We'll support Columbus Public Health with the development and maintenance of a new addiction plan website. We'll collaborate with the state and local health departments across the state to leverage our collective impact."
As the lead agency for the grant, Franklin County Public Health will invest $2.3 million in its partner organizations, including the Columbus Division of Fire. The division will be able to form a second Rapid Response Emergency Addiction Crisis Team unit to link overdose survivors with treatment and recovery support.
"The core RREACT includes one firefighter paramedic, one Crisis Intervention Trained police officer, and a social worker or equivalent clinician," Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther said. "Real help on the spot, and an opportunity to go into treatment right then."
Ginther and health officials stressed that addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease and must be addressed with the same understanding and commitment as any other epidemic. Preliminary data has shown overdose fatalities in Franklin County are up 8 percent this year from 2018 numbers, and most are opiate-related. People between 30 and 39 years of age account for most of the county's overdose deaths.