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Heroin Coalition Expanding Response Operations

Tana Weingartner
Cincinnati and Hamilton County leaders join healthcare agencies to discuss the heroin problem.

Cincinnati and Hamilton County are rolling out another quick response team (QRT) to help deal with the region's heroin epidemic. The teams respond to overdose situations to connect victims with addiction treatment services. "We've got one in Colerain," says County Commissioner Denise Driehaus. "Eighty percent of the people that they touch... get into treatment. Eighty percent; I challenge you to find that kind of success rate with anything no matter where you are."

The Hamilton County Heroin Coalition monitors daily heroin overdoses. The new team will respond to hotspot areas as they arise.

Talbert House CEO Neil Tilow says a 4-month-old team in Cincinnati is already up to a 50 percent success rate of getting people into treatment.

A 24-hour hotline is being expanded as well. It connect addicts with case managers who can help them with finding a bed in a treatment facility, dealing with insurance issues, transportation, etc.

"Our commitment is that no call goes to voicemail," says Nan Franks with the Addiction Services Council, "and that you will always get a live, compassionate and competent professional on the other end. Our goal is also if you need a phone number or a link, we'll give you that. If you need us to walk with you for those next steps, then that's what we're there to do as well."

Part of the expanded effort will also include community-based naloxone distribution projects.

The programs are being funded jointly between the city and county.

Hamilton County has also hired a program coordinator to work with the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition, saying the crisis is so significant it affects all aspects of county government from law enforcement to the courts and the foster care system.