Monongalia County QRT provides guidance to Michigan health department
Aug. 18, 2023
MORGANTOWN, WV (Aug. 17, 2023) — After four years of refining and strengthening its efforts to reduce opioid overdoses, the Monongalia County Quick Response Team (QRT) is continuing to provide guidance and knowledge to other groups with the same goal.
Brittany Irick, Joseph Klass and Jamie Moore of Monongalia County Health Department’s Threat Preparedness program, along with Hoyt Novak of West Virginia Sober Living, recently visited Ingham County Health Department in Michigan as a result of a mentorship initiative aimed at reducing overdoses through community-based approaches.
Serving as mentors, MCHD has been working with the Ingham County Health Department to empower and guide them in their efforts to enhance overdose prevention strategies.
“Every community is going to respond differently to this problem, but we were able to share what works for us and help them in their response to overdoses,” said Brittany Irick, special projects/grants coordinator at MCHD. “After learning about their program and how it works, we developed a technical assistance plan to help them reach their goals.”
The mentorship journey began when MCHD applied to be mentors to the Reducing Overdoses through Community Approaches (ROCA) program, through the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), and were matched with the Ingham County Health Department.
Throughout the mentorship program, MCHD has been providing guidance and assistance to Ingham County’s strategies for combating overdoses. From addressing technical issues related to sharing information from hospitals to ensuring a seamless system that facilitates effective communication between emergency medical services (EMS) and doctors for follow-ups, Monongalia County QRT’s support has already strengthened Ingham County's operational capabilities and fostered a proactive approach to overdose prevention.
"Brittany and the team from MCHD have been very helpful in addressing some of the issues we have in Ingham County,” said Tammy Maidlow-Bresnahan, prevention programs coordinator at ICHD. “They have provided us with some great ideas for our program. I really respect the way the QRT operates and we are hoping to use some of those strategies here.”
In 2019, MCHD secured grant funding for the Monongalia County Quick Response Team (QRT), a collaboration among public health, first responders, Peer Recovery Support Specialists (PRSS) and other health care and private partners dedicated to providing immediate and longer-term help to those struggling with substance abuse.
The QRT gathers reports of overdoses from police and emergency medical services to connect with individuals with substance use disorder. WV PEERS, a subset of West Virginia Sober Living, is a group of people with lived experience of substance use disorder recovery that works to connect those individuals with resources such as housing, recovery treatment and legal assistance.
The presence of the QRT in Monongalia County was a large source of inspiration for members of ICHD. Members of ICHD were especially inspired by one of the Monongalia County QRT’s tools for connecting with individuals: a “leave-behind” card with information about WV PEERS that can be dropped off with individuals after experiencing an overdose.
“We loved the idea of something so simple to leave with people to connect them with resources. We just got our own version of the leave-behind card printed, so I’m very excited about that,” Maidlow-Bresnahan said.
While MCHD was the mentor in the ROCA program, ICHD has also been influential to Monongalia County representatives.
“Even though we were the mentors, we learned a lot from them,” Irick said. “Their program operates completely differently. One of their main strengths was community, and we left with a few takeaways on how we can improve our own program.”
In addition to funding from NACCHO, the ROCA mentorship program was made possible by support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The mentorship program pairs experienced mentor local health departments (LHDs) with mentee LHDs aiming to strengthen their capacity in key strategy areas, such as overdose prevention and how adverse childhood experiences can lead to substance misuse.
This isn’t the first time the Monongalia County QRT has served as a mentor to another QRT. In March 2020, when the QRT hadn’t quite been meeting for a year, the Monongalia County QRT began mentoring the Madison County Health Department in Richmond, Kentucky. This was done through a $230,000 grant from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Maternal, Child and Family Health, with an additional $50,000 grant from NACCHO.
The mentorship program has fostered a connection between the two health departments, with regular check-in calls allowing for ongoing collaboration and guidance. As part of their commitment to mutual learning, ICHD representatives plan to visit MCHD in September in time for Free Naloxone Day, a county-wide event that will be held Sept. 14 and that will be focused on getting naloxone in the hands of the community.
“We are definitely looking forward to coming down to West Virginia to check out more of what MCHD is doing for the community,” Maidlow-Bresnahan said.
For up-to-date information on health and wellness in Monongalia County, check out monchd.org and follow the health department on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @WVMCHD.