New initiatives to fight opioid addiction in southside and southwest Virginia
Experts on the front lines of the opioid crisis say a complex problem requires a comprehensive approach.
Bridging the gaps between emergency care and long term recovery can have a significant impact, and two new initiatives in southside and southwest Virginia will try to do just that.
In Martinsville and Henry County, that could mean a public private partnership, a pilot project that State Senator Bill Stanley will ask the General Assembly to approve.
"It's trying to get our health systems and our community service boards working together on a very important issue that affects us down here in our region," Stanley told WDBJ7, "and do something, I think, a little out of the box, a little different in trying to treat opioid addiction."
In Roanoke, a partnership that includes Virginia Tech, the Bradley Free Clinic and many other stakeholders is launching a program called Connections to Care.
With a federal grant and other funds, it will expand on the work of Roanoke Valley Collective Response and the Hope Initiative.
Mary Beth Dunkenberger is Associate Director of the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance.
"A primary goal is to reduce the incidence of overdose," she said, "but also connect individuals who have experienced overdose to services as quickly as possible."
Ruth Cassell is the Director of Operations for the Bradley Free Clinic.
"So I think there are about 35 different stakeholders involved in Connections to Care." Cassell said, "and again they were already working together at the same table and this gives us resources to accomplish a greater mission. "
Cassell and Dunkenberger say Connections to Care won't solve the opioid epidemic in the Roanoke Valley. There are more gaps to fill, but they say it does represent a major step forward.