Hogan to Spend $50 Million to Fight Opioid Epidemic; Declares State of Emergency

Gov. Larry Hogan at a recent news conference.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced $50 million Wednesday to address the state’s opioid crisis as well as declaring a state of emergency that would activate the governor’s emergency management authority, creating more rapid coordination between state and local jurisdictions.

Hogan also appointed his senior emergency management adviser, Clay Stamp, to lead the state’s coordinated effort to combat the crisis.

“We need to treat this crisis the exact same way we would treat any other state emergency. With this continuing threat increasing at such an alarming rate, we must allow for rapid coordination with our state and local emergency teams,” Hogan said in announcing the measures at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency Emergency Operations Center in Reisterstown.

“We must cut through the red tape so that we are empowering the important work being done in our many state agencies and at the local level all across our state. This is about taking an all-hands-on-deck approach so that together we can save the lives of thousands of Marylanders,” he said.

The $50 million will be spread out over a five years to support Maryland’s prevention, recovery and enforcement efforts.

Maryland had 500 more overdose deaths in 2016 than in 2015, said Dr. Raymond Crowel, chief of behaviorial health and crisis services for the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services.

Though Montgomery possesses about one sixth the state’s population, the county saw only 26 more deaths than the previous year. Crowel said both the state and county increases were based on a spike in the use of Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent, according to the National Institute for Drug Abuse.

The governor’s office said the emergency declaration, contained in an executive order signed Wednesday, follows the initial findings of the Opioid Operational Command Center, which Hogan established in January. The center’s work made it clear that the state needed greater flexibility to activate emergency teams in jurisdictions across the state and engage local communities, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

The executive order delegates emergency powers to state and local emergency management officials, enabling them to fast-track coordination among state and local agencies and community organizations, including private sector and nonprofit entities to ensure whole-community involvement.

As executive director of MEMA, Stamp managed the administration’s response to the Baltimore riots in 2015, and has proven experience with facilitating efforts between state, local and community-based entities to respond to crises in real time, the statement said.

Crowel said nonfatal overdoses in Montgomery County climbed 105 percent, which he saw as a good thing because 85 percent of the nonfatal overdoses were situations where first responders administered Narcan, the trade name for naloxone, which can reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.

“Our losses of people who died would have been far, far greater if we had not been aggressively certifying and equipping our first responders to use Narcan,” Crowel said.

Crowel said he expected other jurisdictions to get a larger share of the $50 million because Montgomery’s overdose death rate is 0.09 deaths per thousand; other jurisdictions are much higher.

But if money did arrive to the county, it would expand its Narcan training, getting family members of addicts trained, as well as expanding education and public awareness.

Here’s Hogan’s announcement, which was available on Facebook Live:

Heroin & Opioid Crisis Announcement – March 1, 2017

Posted by Larry Hogan on Wednesday, March 1, 2017

 

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Douglas Tallman

About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at dtallman@mymcmedia.org or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug

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