Forsyth County declares opioid crisis a public nuisance

County Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt

Forsyth County declares opioid crisis a public nuisance
May 17
12:47 2018

Forsyth County Commissioners voted on several items on May 10 related to the national opioid epidemic, including declaring it a local public nuisance.

The overuse of legal prescription opioids is being widely blamed for the current crisis of opioid addiction that is taxing first responders, jails and numerous other services across the nation. Forsyth County already approved joining many government entities nationwide, including the City of Winston-Salem, in suing opioid distributors and manufacturers. To help with the lawsuit, commissioners approved a resolution last week declaring the opioids crisis a local public nuisance that must be abated.

“Considering the 456 opioid-related deaths in the county from 1999 to 2016, there is a known record of evidence of this epidemic to support the declaration of a public nuisance,” said Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt.

Both the city and the county’s lawsuits are part of multi-district litigation overseen by U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Ohio. The lawsuits say that manufacturers overstated benefits and downplayed the risks of opioids while distributors failed to properly monitor and report suspicious orders of prescription painkillers.

Also during the meeting, commissioners approved several grant applications related to opioids. This included two grants applications by the Emergency Services Department’s Mobile Integrated Health (MIH) Program for Cardinal Innovations Healthcare’s Community Reinvestment funds. One is a $137,000 grant to purchase a year’s supply of the opioid withdraw drug Buprenorphine, which would be first administered to patients on the scene, and to hire a Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Case Manager to link the patients to a Medication-Assisted-Treatment provider so they can continue to receive the drug while in treatment. The other is a $120,000 grant for continued reimbursement for ambulance trips in the hospital diversion program.

Commissioners approved an MIH application for a $150,000 state grant for peer support specialists to work with MIH paramedics as part of post-overdose reversal response. They also approved an application for a grant of up to $20,000 from the UNC School of Government to participate in its intensive two-year collaborative learning model that’ll provide direct response and support to ten counties on the opioid crisis.

In other business, Ashleigh Sloop was appointed to replace County Clerk Carla Holt when she retires at the end of May.


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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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