Added funds will continue the work of the Community Outreach and Prevention Education initiative, helping opioid overdose survivors being treated in ERs to enter treatment.
In another move by Chester County to battle the opioid and heroin crisis, Commissioners Michelle Kichline, Kathi Cozzone and Terence Farrell presented a check for $50,000 today to boost funds for the County’s innovative Community Outreach and Prevention Education (COPE) program. Introduced in April, 2018 and originally piloted in Chester County and Brandywine Hospitals, the COPE service now reaches all five county hospitals, and the program’s effectiveness in year-one has resulted in referrals for substance use disorder treatment services for two out of three individuals served by the COPE program.
The $50,000 donation by the Commissioners comes from the proceeds of the November 2018 Chester County Color 5K, an event that raises funds specifically to help Chester County combat the opioid and heroin crisis. In the three years that the Color 5K has taken place, more than $110,000 has been raised to fund “warm handoff” efforts in hospital emergency rooms that have supported the COPE Program.
“Last year, Chester County recorded 112 accidental drug overdose deaths,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Michelle Kichline. “Through the widespread distribution of Narcan to the public and to Chester County’s first responders, fewer overdoses are resulting in death. It is our desire, through the COPE initiative, to provide important resources and personal guidance for opioid addiction treatment and rehabilitation, helping to break the cycle of addiction, and importantly to support family and friends of those who are suffering from addiction.
“Events like the Color 5K help us to raise awareness and money, so that resources for the COPE program can continue and even expand,” added Commissioner Kichline.
Developed by the Chester County Department of Drug & Alcohol Services, with input from the County’s Drug Overdose Prevention Task Force, the COPE program ensures opioid overdose survivors being treated in local emergency departments are personally encouraged to enter treatment. A 24/7 on-call Engagement Team provides personal support for overdose survivors and their family and friends while they are in the hospital emergency department, as well as following discharge from the ER. COPE also provides overdose prevention information and outreach to first responders and hospital staff.
In addition to developing and implementing the COPE program, Chester County continues to address the many different aspects of the opioid and heroin crisis through its Overdose Prevention Task Force. The county was one of the first to create a task force, which takes a multidisciplinary approach that includes the arrest and prosecution of drug dealers, moving those suffering from addiction into treatment and counseling, educating children and their parents through prevention programming, taking drugs off the streets through the drop box initiative, and working with doctors and health care providers on opioid prescribing practices.
As part of the $50,000 check presentation, Commissioner Kichline thanked the many sponsors of the Chester County Color 5K, especially lead sponsor Independence Blue Cross. She also announced the date for this year’s Color 5K – being held in West Chester on Saturday morning, October 5th.
Commissioner Kichline added: “Many of the people who have taken part in our Color 5K events over the past three years have loved ones who are suffering from addiction, lost family or friends to addiction, or were there because they have gone through the cycle of addiction and treatment and are now in recovery. To all of them I say thank you for your support. We are doing all that we can to make sure this opioid and heroin scourge is beaten.”
For information on sponsorship opportunities and registration for the 2019 Chester County Color 5K go to chesco.org/color5K.