Community Efforts

The community identified opioids as a public health crisis in 2015. Opioids and other substance misuse have impacted (and continue to impact) our communities including medical practices, emergency services, public safety, schools and most importantly, families. Through collaborative efforts, the community is now better situated to respond to the crisis than it was five years ago—WE ARE MAKING PROGRESS.

 

  • Over the last four years (January 2016-April 2020), we’ve distributed more than 2,081 Naloxone kits, the medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
  • Families are learning about the risk of opioid prescriptions through social media, outreach materials and community prevention coalition activities in Concrete, Sedro-Woolley and Mount Vernon.
  • Those needing access to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD), the standard of care for those with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), now have multiple agencies ready to help them.

 

Skagit County Public Health, the Population Health Trust and the Opioid Workgroup Leadership Team (OWLT) have been working since 2016 to create strategies and actions that increase prevention, decrease nonfatal and fatal overdoses, and expand care coordination and treatment, including MOUD.

The Opioid Workgroup Leadership Team (OWLT)

In 2015, Skagit County embarked on a Community Health Assessment process in collaboration with the Population Health Trust. The community at large resoundingly identified the opioid crisis as their greatest concern. Therefore, the Opioid Workgroup Leadership Team (OWLT) formed under the initial guidance of the Population Health Trust in July 2016.

 

The Opioid Workgroup Leadership Team (OWLT) was a voluntary group of committed partner organizations and individuals representing hospitals, clinics, treatment and recovery agencies, law enforcement, public health/government agencies and families.

 

The OWLT was charged with:

  • Understanding the scope of the opioid problem in Skagit County
  • Understanding what was being done throughout the community to address the problem
  • Identifying opportunities to do more
  • Developing an action plan

 

An action plan was presented to the Board of Health on December 13, 2016, after six months of work by the OWLT. The leadership team identified four main goals:

  1. Prevent opioid misuse & abuse
  2. Treat opioid dependence
  3. Expand access to and utilization of Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD)
  4. Prevent deaths from overdose.

 

Over the last four plus years, this group continuously worked towards the vision of a holistic support system for those with opioid/substance use disorders in all of Skagit County. In 2021, OWLT had exhausted the work defined in the action plan (listed above) and it was decided that the OWLT would end.

ACHIEVEMENTS
Goal 1: Prevent Opioid Misuse
Passed the Secure Medicine Return ordinance
Developed a Secure Medicine Return program which consists of ~30 drop boxes/kiosks and mail-back distribution sites
Bi-annual Drug Take Back Day events
Added two prevention coalitions—Sedro-Woolley RISE and MVHope
Completed 50+ community education/stigma reduction presentations
Spotlight Film Festival public presentation and viewing of “Written Off”
Created an Opioid Resource Guide and this SkagitRising website
Distributed educational materials including flyers, brochures, PSAs, and social media posts
Goal 2: Treat Opioid Dependence
Expanded MOUD treatment options in the community and in the Skagit County Community Justice Center (see Goal 3 for examples)
Hosted/co-hosted conferences including Solutions to Addiction, Pregnancy and Beyond, and more
Increased opioid street outreach services and recovery care coordination programs
Goal 3: Expand Access To and Utilization Of Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD)
didgwálič Wellness Center
Ideal Option expanded capacity through additional waivered prescribers and adding a 24/7 nurse line/chat feature
Pioneer Center North Opioid Program
Lifeline Connections AND the expansion of MOUD to East County
MOUD maintenance and induction in Community Justice Center
Goal 4: Prevent Deaths from Overdose
Passed the Overdose a Notifiable Condition ordinance
Expanded distribution of Naloxone (Narcan®).
Skagit Regional Hospital implemented protocol for providing Narcan at discharge
Fentanyl test strips are available at the Mobile Syringe Exchange.
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