Recovery Outreach Event Connects Ross County Residents to Resources and Treatment

Chillicothe, OH – Ross County community partners collaborated in connecting Ross County residents to drug treatment providers and other resources over the course of a 2-day outreach event last month. Community outreach teams included members from the Chillicothe Police Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ross County Sheriff’s Office, Ross County Community Action, First Capital Cornerstone of Change, and the Ross County Health District (RCHD). The Let’s Talk About Recovery Community Outreach Fair, coordinated by RCHD Epidemiologist and Program Lead Liberty Merriman, was held at the Armory Gym in Chillicothe’s Yoctangee Park, from 10am to 6pm on April 24 and 25. Education and training, health and wellness programs, naloxone, recovery support services, treatment providers, and other resources were offered at the event.

Kristen Slaper, Director of Law Enforcement Initiatives at the Ohio Department of Public Safety, remarked of the event, “There is hardly anyone who doesn’t know someone affected by substance use disorder (SUD). Our goal is to help people get into treatment so that they are ultimately reunited with their families.” RCHD’s Help Me Grow Home Visiting program, a voluntary family support program for pregnant women and new parents, was among those participating in the outreach event.

Slaper added, “During these events, we want to help individuals fill in the missing links to build a chain toward success in obtaining jobs and being productive in society. It’s difficult to do that with a felony record. Providing resources to obtain a driver’s license and have records expunged are examples of links in that chain that were available as part of this outreach event. Every one of these community partners provides a valuable resource. We wanted to provide state resources and to support what these groups are already doing on the local level,” said Slaper.

307 successful outreach contacts were made over the course of the 2-day outreach event. 199 kits of naloxone were distributed along with 579 fentanyl test strips. 5 individuals were directly connected to treatment through the event. 25 additional individuals were referred to treatment (individuals agreed to report to treatment at a later date on their own).

“The past 2 days have provided a glimpse into the daily collaboration between organizations within Ross County,” stated Ross County Health Commissioner Janelle McManis. McManis discussed some of RCHD’s partnerships and programs that serve as a response to substance use disorder. “Catch My Breath is an evidence-based curriculum taught by our Health Educator, Paige Rickey, in Ross County schools to facilitate vaping education. 442 students have completed this curriculum to date,” said McManis. “Project DAWN is our naloxone distribution program led by Community Health Worker, Kloey Stevens. We currently have 11 lay distributors of naloxone and 19 secondary distribution sites. We supply naloxone to 6 harm reduction vending machines and 8 naloxone boxes throughout Ross County. We also have a mail order naloxone program,” she added.

McManis also discussed the impact of Ross County’s Post Overdose Response Team (PORT). “The Post Overdose Response Team is a collaboration with multiple agencies including the Ross County Health District, Chillicothe Police Department, Ross County Sheriff’s Office, Chillicothe Fire Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ross County Community Action, Hope Partnership Project, and First Capital Cornerstone of Change. PORT conducts in-person visits, phone calls, text messages, and social media messaging to connect individuals who have recently overdosed to resources,” stated McManis. “They made 121 successful contacts in 2023 and we saw a 32% decrease in reported non-fatal overdoses compared to 2022,” she added.

McManis concluded, “Because of our strong partnerships, we’re making a difference in Ross County, seeing improvements, and changing lives one day at a time.”

For more information about RCHD’s drug overdose prevention programs please visit: https://rosscountyhealth.org/overdose-prevention/

Additional resources:

RCHD Project DAWN Mail Order Naloxone Program

Link to media release