On behalf of her Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, Governor Gina M. Raimondo joined Health and Human Services Secretary Eric J. Beane and the Task Force Co-Chairs, Tom Coderre, Senior Policy Advisor to the Governor, and Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott and Rebecca Boss, Directors of the Rhode Island Departments of Health (RIDOH) and Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH), to recognize 25 cities and towns for their leadership in developing comprehensive overdose prevention response plans.

The cities and towns received the Overdose Leadership Designations as more than 300 leaders were convened for the second statewide Community Overdose Engagement Summit to collaboratively address the overdose epidemic. The Summit served as a follow up to a convening in December 2017 to assist municipalities in developing local overdose response plans.

“Over the six months since we were last here, Rhode Island has had incredible momentum in implementing innovative programs to combat this overdose crisis,” said Raimondo in a press release sent out on Tuesday. “Some of the best ideas come from the people with their boots on the ground in our communities. I congratulate the cities and towns recognized today for their leadership in tackling this crisis. When we work together, we can save lives.”

“The overdose crisis is destroying lives and tearing families apart in all corners of the state,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Eric J. Beane in the same release. “Turning things around in Rhode Island means facing our challenges and choices head on and committing to action. That’s why I am so pleased to see 25 different communities from across our state develop comprehensive overdose prevention response plans.”

Summit participants included municipal leaders, public health practitioners, healthcare providers, pharmacists, behavioral health counselors, law enforcement personnel and other first responders, people in the recovery and treatment communities, prevention coalition members, family and youth substance use prevention organization members, and representatives from Rhode Island Centers of Excellence and RIDOH’s Health Equity Zones (HEZs).

“Thanks to Jonathan Goyer’s success story of recovery, we know that the opposite of addiction is connectedness,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH in the release. “This Community Overdose Engagement Summit built on the connections made during our first convening in December, and provided the opportunity for a wide range of partners to share the innovative approaches they have developed to prevent and respond to overdoses in their communities. We are fulfilling this year’s theme for the Governor’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force that is all about our Communities Coming Together, because everyone plays a role in changing perceptions about addiction to support each other, regardless of the zip code we’re from.”

“The incredible turnout for today’s Summit shows that leaders across the State are committed to supporting community members struggling with substance use disorder,” said BHDDH Director Rebecca Boss in the press release. “To address Rhode Island’s overdose crisis, we must focus on prevention and rescue, and we must also help people gain access to treatment and the resources needed to be successful in recovery. The development of these comprehensive plans at the city and town level is a critical step in our collective efforts to prevent overdoses and save lives.”

At the first statewide Community Overdose Engagement Summit in December 2017, RIDOH and BHDDH challenged Rhode Island cities and towns to develop comprehensive overdose response plans based on the Governor’s statewide Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force Action Plan. RIDOH made grant funding of up to $5000 available to municipalities to assist them in completing these plans.

Cities and towns recognized for the development of comprehensive overdose prevention response plans include:

  • Town of Burrillville
  • Town of Charlestown
  • Town of Richmond
  • Town of Hopkinton
  • Town of Narragansett
  • Town of South Kingstown
  • Town of Warren
  • Town Bristol
  • Town of Barrington
  • City of East Providence
  • City of Warwick
  • City of Providence
  • Town of Portsmouth
  • Town of Little Compton
  • Town of Tiverton
  • Town of Coventry
  • Town of North Kingstown
  • City of Pawtucket
  • City of Newport
  • Town of West Greenwich
  • Town of Westerly
  • Town of West Warwick
  • City of Woonsocket
  • Town of Exeter
  • City of Central Falls

A video that highlights the innovative work of five Rhode Island municipalities that developed comprehensive overdose response plans is below;

RIDOH CODE Video from Sky Sabin Productions on Vimeo.

Since March 2014 hospitals and emergency departments have been required to report any suspected opioid overdoses to RIDOH within 48 hours. These data have allowed RIDOH to look at overdose activity in each community on a weekly basis and identify data trends and abnormalities. Through this data analysis, thresholds for local warnings were established and a system for alerting local leaders was developed. Rhode Island Overdose Action Area Response (ROAAR) public health advisories are sent to first responders and municipal leaders to alert them of an increase in overdose activity within a seven-day period. In addition, when RIDOH observes an increase in a specific geographical area three times within a six-week period, RIDOH, BHDDH, and the Rhode Island Fusion Center hold a local Community Overdose Engagement meeting with those leaders to examine the community’s customized data, discuss their unique challenges, and form solutions. Today’s Summit was the second statewide Community Overdose Engagement meeting, designed to bring communities together to learn from one another and develop local overdose response plans.