Public Health Update: State and Local Officials Respond to Increase in Heroin Overdoses

BALTIMORE (July 10, 2013) – Health and law enforcement officials across Maryland are taking steps to counter an increase in the number of heroin-related overdose deaths. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene today released a report today showing that the number of heroin-related overdose deaths increased from 245 in 2011 to 378 in 2012, a 54 percent rise. This increase led to a 15 percent rise in the total number of fatal drug- and alcohol-related overdoses in the State, from 663 in 2011 to 761 in 2012.

According to the report, consistent with the Department’s fall 2012 public release, 2012 marked a reversal in recent alcohol and drug overdose trends. Heroin-related deaths, which declined 36 percent between 2007 and 2011, increased among all demographic groups and in all regions in the State from 2011 to 2012. In contrast, deaths related to prescription opioids like oxycodone and methadone, which increased 18 percent between 2007 and 2011, decreased 12 percent between 2011 and 2012. To view the full report, click here.

“We are taking action to address this serious public health concern,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Secretary of DHMH.

After issuing a public alert on the rise in heroin overdoses last fall, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene directed all Maryland counties and Baltimore City to develop an overdose response plan. An all-day technical assistance session was held on March 27. The local prevention plans will be posted as they become available at http://adaa.dhmh.maryland.gov/SitePages/OD_Prevention_Plans.aspx.

The implementation of local plans will provide opportunities for cross-sector collaboration to address drug and alcohol overdoses. Plan components identified by jurisdictions include:
  • Hosting continuing education programs to improve the ability of medical providers to screen for misuse of opioids and to safely and effectively prescribe these medications;
  • Training and certifying individuals on the administration of naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses; and
  • Establishing multi-disciplinary overdose fatality review teams to improve data sharing and coordinate prevention activities.
To assist local jurisdictions in their overdose prevention efforts, Governor O’Malley will attend a roundtable with law enforcement and public health authorities at the Cecil County Administration Building, 200 Chesapeake Blvd., in Elkton on August 9, 2013, at 2:30 PM. Other jurisdictions will hold similar roundtables on this issue: Baltimore County on August 6; Baltimore City on August 12; Wicomico County on August 28; and Prince George’s County on August 29. Details will be made available at http://adaa.dhmh.maryland.gov/SitePages/OD_Prevention_Plans.aspx.

At these events, State and local leaders, including representatives from health, law enforcement, education, social services, and other agencies, will discuss actions they are taking to address alcohol and drug overdoses in their communities.

The report released today found that the overall increase in the number of drug and alcohol overdose deaths was largest among individuals over the age of 55, with deaths in this age group increasing by 40 percent. The total number of deaths increased by 20 percent in Central and Southern Maryland and by nearly 30 percent in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County, while remaining stable from 2011 to 2012 in Western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore.

Governor O’Malley has added drug and alcohol overdose deaths to his Governor’s Delivery Unit outcome measures for the state, with a goal of 20 percent decline by 2015.
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(Snow Hill, MD)- The 22nd Annual “Tortoise & Hare Dare” 5K walk/run will be held at 9 am, on Saturday, April 6, with a rain date of April 13, at Pocomoke River State Park-Shad Landing, Snow Hill, Maryland. Registration begins at 8:30 am. This is a FREE event and is Pet-Friendly and will be led by Smokey the Bear. The first 100 runners/walkers to check-in on the day of the event will receive a free commemorative T-shirt. There is no cost to take part in the Tortoise and the Hare Dare. The Worcester County Health Department, Worcester County Department of Recreation & Parks, and Pocomoke River State Park all co-sponsor the 5k.

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(Snow Hill, MD)- The Worcester County Health Department is pleased to announce new funding awarded through the Maryland Department of Health, Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, to put into action community-based projects that support physical activity in Worcester County. This new grant funding will help WCHD create projects that line up with the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Healthy People 2020 campaign.

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Worcester County Lead Poisoning Prevention Program provides consultation to parents, home owners, renters, landlords, medical offices, and other concerned community members on the lead poisoning, prevention, testing, and regulations. Education and case management is provide to parents with children with elevated blood lead levels. Call 410-632-1100 for more information. 


What is lead poisoning?

Lead poisoning is one of the most common environmental child health problems in the United States and effects 3 to 4 million children. Lead is especially harmful to children younger than 6, but anyone who eats, drinks, or breathes something which has too much lead can get lead poisoning. Although chipping paint and paint dust are the most common sources of lead, lead can also be found in ceramic cups and dishes, fishing sinkers, craft supplies, leaded crystal, spray paint, and even in soil and water.

Click the image below for more information.

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Flu season is fully underway but it's not too late to reduce your risk. Flu vaccines are still available in Worcester County and simple, everyday precautions such as washing your hands, staying home when you're sick, and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze can help stop the spread of the flu. To learn more call 410-632-1100 or click the image below to visit the CDC page on flu prevention. 

 

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Snow Hill Rotary partners with Worcester Health on prescription lockboxes; Health Department to launch new substance abuse awareness campaigns in Spring 2019


(Snow Hill, MD)- The Worcester County Health Department and Snow Hill Rotary Club partnered in 2019 to provide free prescription lockboxes to the community. In 2018, the Rotary conducted a needs assessment to determine priorities for where to donate their resources. After having presentations from various organizations, including the Worcester County Health Department, it was determined that the opioid crisis would be a priority area and partnering with the health department to provide lock boxes was the intervention they selected. The Snow Hill Rotary Club also participated in a Naloxone training provided by the health department.

Funded by the Rotary Club, the new lockboxes encourage residents to keep their prescription medications, such as opioids, safe and secure. In addition to promoting responsible opioid storage, Worcester Health will launch several new awareness campaigns this spring focusing on Addiction in the Workplace, Naloxone training, reducing the stigma around recovery as well as promoting the State of Maryland’s Good Samaritan Law.

“I would like to thank the Snow Hill Rotary Club for partnering with the Worcester County Health Department on the lockbox initiative,” said Rebecca Jones, Health Officer for Worcester County. “This is another avenue in which to fight the ongoing opioid crisis.”

 Pictured (left to right): Mimi Dean, Director of Prevention, Worcester County Health Department, Rebecca Jones, Health Officer, Worcester County Health Department, Marty Pusey, Snow Hill Rotary Club, Chris Welch, President, Snow Hill Rotary Club.

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