Opioid settlement funds used to fund outreach coordinator
Published 10:08 am Friday, January 13, 2023
Kentucky has long been considered “Ground Zero” of the opioid overdose epidemic. To combat the epidemic, the University of Kentucky received $ 87-million to conduct a study on reducing opioid deaths by 40%. The four-year study is called “HEALing Initiative” which stands for Helping to End Addiction Long-term.
As part of the study, Boyle County hired outreach coordinator Terry Dunn to work directly with overdose victims and their families. Statistics show that people who have experienced a nonfatal drug overdose are at higher risk of fatal overdose than those who have not so it’s critical that we work with them to find treatment and other services.
Email newsletter signup
Dunn presented statistics collected over the past six months to the Boyle Co Fiscal Court. “I am a Social Worker and an EKU graduate. I am also a Minister,” said Dunn, who added, “I am also a recovering addict, so I understand the situation of the people I serve.”
Funding for the position was guaranteed for one year, and after that period, Boyle Co Fiscal Court realized that the position has become invaluable in mitigating overdose situations. “I was hired as an overdose outreach coordinator. I have since learned that there is so much more need in the community. So many issues, beside just overdoses.” Dunn reported that he has seen a significant number of mental health cases in our community, issues dealing with the elderly population who have a need for help connecting to available services and even sees needs among our high school and middle school students. “Basically what I do is make sure people are getting the services they need. For example, I know Ephraim McDowell is very good when teenagers come to the ER, with issues like suicide or an overdose, they are very good to send them to me to get help. I am able to follow up with them and the parents to make sure they are getting counseling or any services they may need,” said Dunn.
Dunn added, “Unfortunately, overdose cases don’t beat my door down seeking treatment. It takes persistence. One case, it took almost two months of follow up visits and phone calls before the individual finally said, yes, I am going to seek treatment.”
Fiscal Court members wholeheartedly endorsed the position, and voted unanimously to earmark Opioid Settlement funds toward the position, making this the first County funded, outreach coordinator in Kentucky. Boyle County Judge Executive Trille Bottom said, “Clearly there is a need. I am impressed with Mr. Dunn’s passion for this area of work. To have a point of contact on the ground in Boyle County is invaluable to our constituents and is exactly what the Opioid Settlement funds are for.”