Addressing the Opioid Crisis
The Tacoma-Pierce County Opioid Task Force’s goal is to raise awareness, reduce stigma, improve health, and address many of the barriers that exist for people with a substance user disorder. We come together to concentrate on prevention & education, access to treatment, and offering individuals the right services at the right time.
Our Shared History
At Elevate Health’s inception, we integrated opioid initiatives throughout our work and in compliance with the Washington State Health Care Authority. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department was one of our best resources for identifying data gaps in analysis and supporting our efforts in service to the region.
Under our initial plan, we established an Opioid Workgroup and began operating intervention and prevention services through our Care Continuum Network. The Opioid Workgroup engaged partners in opioid-related work or who possessed expertise throughout the county. Originally the Opioid Workgroup collaborated in conjunction with the Opioid Taskforce convened by Pierce County, and to ensure alignment and cooperation, Councilmember Derek Young sat on both the workgroup and the taskforce.
In 2019, we agreed to streamline our efforts, maximize resources, and avoid duplication by folding the Opioid Workgroup into the Opioid Taskforce. Today Elevate Health is an active participant and sponsor of the taskforce. Learn more about the taskforce’s history.
Our Shared Framework
Access to Treatment Committee
Priority: Increase appropriate use of suboxone prescribing among providers
- Identify trained and waiver providers who are not prescribing
- Identify barriers to prescribing suboxone
- Work with health systems to encourage primary care providers to appropriately prescribe
- Develop a map to highlight geographic gaps in prescribing and access to treatment
Right Services, Right Time Committee:
Priority: Develop a clear intake tool for first responders and law enforcement to assess readiness for opioid use disorder treatment and access areas in the community
- Increase awareness of the District Court’s Resource Center
- Support Partners efforts to provide diversion programs
Prevention and Education Committee:
Priority: Address the opioid epidemic upstream with children and youth and identify drivers for addiction.
- Assessed prevention curriculum in all 15 school districts
- Develop a screening and referral strategy
- Research youth-focused media campaigns
Moving Best Practices Forward
Community Health Action Teams (CHAT) set a standard in targeting individuals who frequent emergency services and delivering interventions that address their health needs before they become unmanageable. Scaling and spreading the successes of the CHAT around individuals who have a substance use disorder is our next step.
We’re engaged with the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington and the network of Accountable Communities of Health across the state to collaborate on addressing the opioid crisis. The group is keen to leverage and share data, as well as successful methods, in order to further our shared goals.
Pierce County Overdose Awareness Campaign Event 2021
Host: Chelsea Amato: Opioid Task Force Coordinator Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department
As part of our ongoing work to curb opioid use in Pierce County, Elevate Health co-sponsored this event in recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day. Events held worldwide on this day:
- remember those who have been lost to fatal drug poisoning
- celebrate those who have been rescued from or assisted in rescuing someone from an overdose,
- help reduce the stigma of overdose and drug use.
- Madison LeFever, singer/song writer
- Charnay Ducrest, Treatment Service Coordinator
- Sean Hemmerle, Overdoes Education & Naloxone Distribution Consultant WA State DOH
- Kayla Luke, Treatment Service Counselor Tacoma Pierce County Health Department
- Dr. Paul Lakosky: Executive Director Dave Purchase Project TNE
Annual Opioid Summit
Elevate Health is an ongoing sponsor of the Opioid Summit that takes place each year since 2018 and calls upon experts and leaders in Pierce County to share data and best practices in how to confront the opioid crisis in our communities.
Watch previous Opioid Summits:
Read more stories about how the we are addressing the opioid crisis.
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