YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — York County is putting more money into fighting the opioid epidemic, distributing more than $2 million in opioid settlement money.
The money allocated in August is just the first round of settlement money, the largest grant of just over $1 million, going to the York Opioid Collaborative to help develop a plan to fight substance use.
“Drug-related deaths continue to be one of the top accidental deaths here in York County,” York Opioid Collaborative Executive Director Brittany Shutz said.
The growing opioid epidemic has no easy solution.
“That entails obviously multiple partners, working together,” Shutz said.
She says that is why the Collaborative plays a crucial role.
“Our primary role, historically, has always been to bring cross-sector partners together to identify gaps and opportunities,” she said.
Shutz says the Collaborative tries to bring together people from across industries to tackle the opioid epidemic. Now, they are ramping up that work, thanks to a grant from York County commissioners: $1 million spread out over five years.
“Really in this first year to kind of look at the development and implementation of a coordinated community plan around substance use,” Shutz said. The Collaborative will receive the money on an annual basis and report to an Opioid Advisory Board set up by the county.
The collaborative is one of 11 organizations that received money from the county’s opioid settlement funds. The recommendations were made by the Advisory Board.
“We’re allocating this to organizations and projects that are in this for the long haul,” President Commissioner Julie Wheeler said.
Wheeler says officials wanted to focus on prevention and education as well as treatment and recovery.
“If we can get one person off being addicted to opioids, we win. If we can save one life, we win,” she said.
Shutz says the Collaborative shares that goal and will work with its partners and the community to develop a plan.
“This collective effort is driven by them. The Collaborative is just simply here to help support that,” she said.
Another round of money will be allocated to more groups this fall. York County is also expecting to get more money from other settlements, which they plan to use in similar ways.