EMS proposes extending opioid outreach position; County receives opioid settlement fund

Published 6:06 am Tuesday, January 10, 2023



The Fiscal Court heard a proposal by Tim Bryant with Boyle County EMS to extend their social worker / opioid outreach program coordinator by six months at their meeting on Dec. 20.

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Terry Dunn has held the position since July 2022. The position is a six-month contract from funding provided by a University of Kentucky study grant to help communities recover from the opioid epidemic.

“Over the past month, month and a half, we’ve had so many deaths,” Bryant said. “Terry Dunn was there to help, and he’s turned into more of a counselor for the entire county.”

The position started out as opioid outreach, but Bryant said it has turned into more social work for people with all types of struggles.

“There’s more mental health issues than there are opioid, and Terry’s been responding to all those with us, and it’s made the biggest difference in the world,” Bryant said.

Dunn goes on EMS calls about domestics, mental illness, drugs, and other things. He has helped place people in nursing homes, place people in treatment, and has been at the hospital to help with tragedies.

“He’s turning into way more of a social worker for crisis management,” Bryant said.

He said if the county hired Dunn on an extended basis, they’d be one of the first counties to have a social worker to help crisis management, the sheriff’s office, EMS and other agencies.

County Treasurer Darlene Lanham said UK only guaranteed funding for this position for $35,000 through December 2022. Bryant wants to extend the position to at least June 30, 2023, and look for other ways to fund the position longer-term.

Lanham said the county is receiving its share of opioid settlement money from a nationwide lawsuit against drug maker Johnson & Johnson, and distribution companies AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson.

The county’s money is to be released as of Dec. 15, and will be given over a five-year period. The first year, the county will receive $39,129.

Lanham said this amount would be enough to cover Dunn for six months. However, that would use almost the entire first year opioid fund.

Since this was the last court session for outgoing members, the court decided to let the new court make a decision on this matter at their first meeting in January.

Since Dunn’s position was almost up, the court passed a motion to extend Dunn’s position to the next fiscal court meeting on Jan. 10.

In other business:

• EMS hired a part time paramedic from Georgetown, Austin Bradley.

• The court was introduced to new Sheriff Taylor Bottom, who then presented the sheriff’s budget. Waste Management Director Angie Muncy thanked the Sheriff’s Department for recently catching people doing illegal dumping.

• The court did not take action on the solar farm moratorium, which was set through Jan. 1. They let it roll over and will let the new court take action if necessary.

• The court was introduced to Jessica Joseph, a new animal control officer.