Blog Author: Emily Gangi
Dr. Wanda Boone describes the Opioid Response Project experience as extremely rewarding, not only because of shared information at forums, but because of the dialogue that happened during presentations and with speakers. “Presenters have been knowledgeable, respectful and open to hearing feedback,” said Boone. “The School of Government took time to think about the balance of speakers between novices and experts in the room, and to me, that was the most wonderful aspect of the project.”
Making new connections and sharing resources are the primary benefits from the Forsyth team’s experience with the Opioid Response Project. “We need new ways to rethink how we work,” said project manager Amanda Clark, a health educator with the Forsyth Department of Health. “There are resources out there but finding out what works well and how to implement new ideas can be a challenge. This project helped connect us, bringing the right people to the table to tackle big issues in new ways.”
After a 2011 decision by the state of North Carolina to remove funding for drug court programs, communities and courts like North Carolina’s 8th Judicial District began collaborating to find another way. Advocates like Chief District Judge Elizabeth Heath were determined to keep drug courts open to help low-level offenders addicted to drugs receive treatment and avoid prison while on probation. “We began seeing an increase in use of opioids, heroin and meth around that time,” said Heath. “The commissioners and health departments from our three-county district immediately began looking at ways to collaborate and deal with the growing crisis.”
In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid epidemic to be a public health emergency. More than 13,000 North Carolinians died of unintentional opioid-involved poisoning deaths from 1999 to 2017. Opioid use disorder affects populations all across North Carolina, including pregnant mothers. Mothers using opioids during pregnancy can result in a variety of birth defects, miscarriage, and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), preterm birth.
The ability to recruit and retain a skilled workforce is vital in today’s economy. Local employers in Alamance County need to build a talent pipeline from within the local labor market. Approximately one-third of residents ages 25-64 attain a postsecondary degree. Employers and the school system recognize the need to expand the talent pipeline for manufacturing specifically. Companies need workers with more specialized skills than what is learned in high school. Human resource managers complain it’s difficult to find enough qualified applicants for vacant positions created by a tight labor market and the surge of retirements from the Baby Boomer segment of the workforce.
Co-Author Hallee Haygood The Challenge When children face extreme adversity at a young age, it impacts their well-being in the present and later on. It can create many social, physical, and psychological problems for children as they continue to age, … Read more