On Wednesday, May 24, 2017 the Metro Mayors Coalition (MMC) hosted a forum for municipal officials responsible for developing and implementing policies and strategies that assist community members who are struggling with opioid addiction. The event featured the release of the report Addressing the Opioid Epidemic in Metro Mayors Communities.
The forum brought together more than 50 municipal officials from MMC communities, providing them an opportunity to learn from their peers in neighboring communities and discuss how they can work together to improve their efforts. The event began with introductory remarks from Winthrop Town Manager Jim McKenna and Winthrop Police Chief Terrence Delehanty, who gave an overview of Winthrop’s work in this arena. Following these remarks, officials from the cities of Boston, Chelsea, and Quincy gave presentations on challenges and solutions in their communities.
MAPC staff led a facilitated discussion to identify current gaps in response strategies and methods to improve services throughout the region. This discussion touched on a number of challenges, including the need to improve data collection across communities, increase communication and coordination between municipal and health officials, create more consistency around funding for vital programs, and the importance of providing “wrap-around” services through the duration of an individual’s recovery. Improving data collection would allow communities to recognize trends, such as the frequency of bad batches of drugs and enable them to plan an effective and quick response. Improving communication had several layers, including improving inter-municipal communication on deaths and overdoses, as well as how to improve communications between all stakeholders involved with an individual. The group also discussed improved communication with the state, particularly with health and human services agencies. They found that the process to receive funding from the Commonwealth was cumbersome and believe that improving communication with state officials would streamline that process. The attendees had several comments about the importance of wrap-around services for individuals suffering from addiction. Individuals coming out of treatment are at a high risk of overdose and it is important to provide them workforce training, education support, and housing to reduce their chances of relapse.
Moving forward, MAPC will continue to work with the MMC stakeholders to identify and advocate for policies that will enhance municipal and regional efforts that help those struggling with opioid addiction. This will be complemented by research into ways to strengthen regional collaboration to address the epidemic. Recommendations in both areas will be presented to MMC leaders at future meetings.
For more information on the Metro Mayors Opioid Report, visit MAPC’s website.