Portland/ Community & Society
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Published on January 22, 2024
Portland Launches Innovative Overdose Response Team with $389K Grant to Counter Opioid CrisisSource: City of Portland, Oregon Website

Portland is stepping up its game in the fight against the opioid crisis. City leaders have greenlit a plan for Portland Fire & Rescue to kick off an overdose response team next month, according to a recent report from KOIN. Mayor Ted Wheeler and four city commissioners cast unanimous votes in favor of a hefty $389,577 grant from CareOregon at Wednesday's city council meeting to get the wheels turning on the life-saving initiative.

Unlike existing services geared towards mental and behavioral crises, this new pilot program called "Mobile Medication for Opioid Use Disorder" will go for a more hands-on approach. The Community Health Assess and Treat team (CHAT) are getting down in the trenches, ready to administer medication like Narcan, a lifesaver in overdose situations, right on the scene of emergencies. They will also distribute buprenorphine, which helps tackle opioid use disorder, as the folks at KOIN have detailed.

The big bucks for this program come as part of an emergency ordinance found at City of Portland's website. The grant given by CareOregon will cover program expenses from the start of this year until the next summer solstice in 2025, and not a penny needs to be matched by the city.

Officials believe the Medication for Opioid Use Disorder Program (MOUD) is a game-changer. Instead of just taking people to the emergency room after a 911 call, MOUD aims to quickly connect them to long-term treatment centers. This proactive approach is seen as a way to reduce overdose deaths in Portland, which have been rising rapidly. The City Council supports this program as part of their goal to offer immediate access to drug treatment and recovery services when someone calls 911. Having Medically Assisted Treatment readily available could increase the chances of someone entering substance use disorder treatment by six times, benefiting the entire community.