Opioid summit set Monday to review data, share potential solutions

KINGSTON — At a three-county opioid summit Monday, professionals from across the Olympic Peninsula will review opioid data from across the region and look for solutions to abuse of the drugs.

Officials will share the results of a five-month assessment and planning phase at the summit hosted by Salish Behavioral Health and Olympic Community of Health (OCH), said Elya Moore, executive director of OCH.

“We’ll share our understanding of the current state of the opioid epidemic in our region,” she said. “We hope to get a consensus on a path forward and to get everybody to agree how to address the problem.”

The summit, to be held at the Village Green Community Center in Kingston, is geared for professionals who work directly with the problem in Clallam, Kitsap and Jefferson counties, and is already booked to capacity, she said.

She expects prosecutors, members of law enforcement, clinic directors, paramedics and elected officials to attend.

Dr. Chris Frank, Clallam County health officer and OCH board member, said he anticipates some 250 people will attend the summit, which is sponsored by Amerigroup and Coordinated Care.

“In the short term, we’re looking at getting a shared understanding of the situation and some agreement on how we measure success,” he said.

Frank, who chairs the steering committee for the three-county opioid response project, said the project has three goals.

The first is to prevent opioid misuse and abuse by improving prescribing practices. The second is to treat opioid dependence by expanding access to treatment. The third is to prevent death by distributing naloxone to those who use heroin or are on high-risk opioids.

The opioid summit Monday marks the end of the first phase of the project, which included gathering information.

Frank said the group surveyed law enforcement, paramedics, medical providers and people who work with substance users.

Data released earlier this month showed Clallam County’s heroin and opioid epidemic affects people of all ages across the county.

Clallam County had 62 documented overdoses last year and at least six deaths.

The data was compiled as part of the three-county effort to fight the opioid epidemic.

What will come after the summit is the implementation phase of the plan, he said. Those who attend will be split into three task forces that will focus on the three goals.

Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, called the event an important step forward in fighting the opioid epidemic.

“All three counties are dealing with the impacts of what is appropriately being called the opioid epidemic, but we’ve been dealing with it in isolation,” he said.

“We’ve been doing our own thing to do the best we can to grapple the problem.”

Locke said Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties are at the forefront of the response effort in the state.

He is hopeful the work being done will make more grant funding available to expand treatment in the region.

“The big gap in Jefferson County is in treatment,” he said. “It’s a treatable condition.”

Jefferson County, which was the second in the state to begin recording overdoses — the first was Clallam County — doesn’t yet have a year of data like Clallam, Locke said.

To date, there have mostly been “scattered reports,” and officials believe the data they have in Jefferson County are incomplete.

Locke said the epidemic is not as severe in Jefferson County as it is in Clallam County.

“Fortunately, we’re seeing less [than Clallam County], as best we can tell,” he said. “But we think things are going to get worse if we don’t do something about it.”


Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.

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