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By Erin Smith

In a recent meeting of the Eastpointe MCO Board of Directors, CEO Sarah Stroud updated the board regarding the Opioid Crisis in North Carolina and strategies being taken to combat the situation. 

Eastpointe MCO serves a ten county area following the disengagement of Nash County in 2017 and Columbus County in March 2018. The counties currently being served by Eastpointe MCO include: Bladen, Duplin, Edgecombe, Greene, Lenoir, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Wayne and Wilson counties.

Stroud told the board that as of February 2018, Eastpointe has distributed 1,094 Narcan kits in their service area. They began passing out the Narcan kits in July 2017. They have also hosted an Opioid Addiction Epidemic National Crisis: 2018 Perspectives at the Justice Academy in Salemburg in January 2018 which featured guest speakers including former Major League Baseball Player Darrell Strawberry. The conference had 240 participants, said Stroud. 

Eastpointe has also made available $888,000 for Medication Assisted Treatment to their network of Opioid Treatment Speciality Providers. Stroud said that,  as of February, Easpointe is seeking to extend state funded contracts to add more such providers in their service area.  Currently, Eastpointe has 29 approved prescribers of buprenorphine for those who are receiving outpatient treatment, substance abuse intensive outpatient treatment and substance abuse comprehensive treatment services, said Stroud.

Eastpointe’s Community Relations staff have also been working diligently in their service areas. Stroud said Eastpointe Community Relations staff have been involved in such things as offering Crisis Intervention Training to first responders and law enforcement officers and is partnering with faith-based groups and schools to raise awareness of the opioid epidemic,. They have also partnered with the Bladen County Health Department and the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office in distributing opioid-related materials into the community to raise awareness. 

Stroud said Eastpointe staff have also partnered with the NC Parent Resource Center in taking the “Lock Your Meds campaign” to the Clinton City Police Department in Sampson County.  Red Ribbon campaign materials including materials addressing substance abuse have been distributed to Bladen County Schools.

Stroud also told the board that Eastpointe representatives have attended the Eastern Regional Substance Abuse Prevention Summit and they have attended Opioid Task Force meetings in Bladen, Columbus and Robeson counties. Eastpointe staff have made presentations at some of the Bladen County opioid task force meetings. Stroud said Wilson County is planning to create an opioid task force in the near future and Eastpointe staff are working with two additional countries to establish opioid task forces in those locations. 

September 2017 was declared Recovery Month and Stroud said during September, Eastpointe staff made various presentations and attended events throughout their service area. 

In Robeson County, Eastpointe has passed out Narcan kits and opioid-related materials at Juvenile Crime Prevention Council meetings and partnered with County Innovative Approaches to raise awareness of the opioid epidemic in the community, according to Stroud. 

Theresa Edmundson said the Eastpointe staff is committed to continuing to attend opioid forums, conducting trainings, recovery coaching, providing scholarship stop those who want to attend training to become a Recovery Coach,  and they plan to continue providing Narcan kits to first responders. 

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