Commissioners add funds to opioid fight

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Commissioner Terence Farrell, Commissioner Michelle Kichline and Commissioner Kathi Cozzone (far right) present a check for $20,000 to Vince Brown, Director of the Chester County Department of Drug and Alcohol Services.

WEST CHESTER — The Chester County Commissioners presented a check for $20,000 to Vince Brown, Director of the County’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Services as further endorsement of the commitment to fight the opioid and heroin crisis in Chester County.

The $20,000, which is part of the Commissioners’ appropriations funds, will support the County’s new Community Outreach and Prevention Education (COPE) initiative, borne out of the Chester County Overdose Prevention Task Force.  COPE will provide one-to-one support for overdose survivors and their families and friends; provide overdose prevention information and outreach to first responders, hospital staff, family members and friends; and importantly, provide expedited admission into detox and a review of all treatment options for overdose survivors who agree to treatment. 

Chester County’s commitment to tackling the opioid and heroin epidemic is evident in the intensive health, education, treatment and law enforcement measures coordinated by the Overdose Prevention Task Force.   The County’s Color 5K, being held in West Chester on Saturday, November 4th, is a high profile event that is helping raise awareness, as well as funds, to combat the addiction issue.  Funds raised by this event will also support Chester County’s COPE program.

“The opioid and heroin crisis remains a very big concern that we, as a county have been cooperatively addressing for some time,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Michelle Kichline.  “We’re talking to doctors about prescription practices, we’re undertaking law enforcement measures that make it harder to source the drugs in the county, we’re educating young people to try and prevent greater use in the future, and we’re working with emergency responders and hospitals to provide the right treatment options for overdose survivors.

“But the sad fact is that this awful epidemic is claiming more lives, and we have already surpassed our death toll for last year,” added Commissioner Kichline.  “Compared with other areas of the state or nation, Chester County may have fewer people abusing opioids and heroin, but deaths related to overdose are up 38 percent in Chester County for the first half of this year compared to 2016, and as of the end of September, 103 lives were lost to overdose here – deaths that most likely began with a prescription for opioid pain and ended with buying heroin on the street.”

“Many people taking part in this year’s Color 5K have loved ones who are currently suffering from addiction, and they are running or walking to support them.  Others have lost family or friends to addiction, and they are in it to honor their memory.  And still others are there because they have gone through the cycle of addiction and treatment and come out the other side as recovering addicts. Finally, there are those participating who just want to help raise funds for programs that will fight this scourge,” added Kichline.

The Chester County Color 5K will take place in Everhart Park in West Chester on Saturday, November 4, 2017.  Registration begins at 8:00am and the race begins at 9:00 am.  For details of the event and to register, go to www.chesco.org/color5k.

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