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QRT designed to relieve burden of drug epidemic

    Current Kenton County Detention Center Project Coordinator and Falmouth resident April DeFalco hosted an informative drug related addiction and recovery educational meeting at the Pendleton County extension office on July 24.
    The event allowed her the opportunity to present new information on the area’s fight against opioid abuse to a crowded room of guests that included City of Falmouth Mayor, Ron Stinson, Pendleton County Sheriff, Eddie Quinn, Pendleton County Emergency Management Director, Mike Moore and City of Falmouth Police Officer, Mark McClure. Among the guest speakers in attendance were Jason Merrick of the Kenton County Detention Center, Dr. Amy Marston from Three Rivers Health Department, and Drug Court Coordinator, Heather Caudill.
    Among the highlights of the meeting, DeFalco introduced the newly-formed Quick Response Team (QRT) for Pendleton County. The group currently consists of nine members: Andy French, Tonya Taylor, Tori Mineer,  Shellie Hall, Mark Hall, Jennifer Lucas, Jamie Turner, Bill Lea and Susan Gibson. Together, this group will work collectively with DeFalco in reaching out to individuals roughly 24-48 hours following an overdose in order to offer support and resources through a diversion program. DeFalco believes this collaborative effort can make a tremendously positive impact, particularly in smaller communities.
    “Our numbers are big in this community but the early results of the programs have been successful,” she stated. The QRT team officially got started earlier this spring, but there have already been positive outcomes to report.
    “From March through June, we worked with Officer McClure in implementing the LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) program. There were four instances where low-level offenders were diverted into treatment. Two of the four graduated from the treatment. In the meantime, we have also made strides in working with Pendleton County Attorney Stacey Sanning as well as city and county police departments to design and modify policies and procedures that will work for our community,” DeFalco added.
    These alternative programs are designed to help relieve the burden that has reached epidemic levels for communities throughout the area. According to Dr. Marston, since 2015, 252 individuals have participated in the Pendleton County Harm Reduction Program which has distributed 475 naloxone kits.
    DeFalco added that over just the past four months, Pendleton County has encountered 17 overdoses, 18 QRT visits (which equated to over eight hours of volunteer time), over 138 miles driven, and 51 narcan kits distributed. She also pointed out   that   there   have   already been already four drug-related deaths (excluding overdoses or drug related deaths that occured at hospitals or en route to hospitals.
    “We want to continue to build up these programs here because we care. The impact of drug-related deaths especially here in smaller communities like Pendleton County can hurt so much more because we are so tightly connected. There are only good things that can come from these diversion programs and they are funded one-hundred percent by the Department of Justice and by K.O.R.E. Grant’s. We want to provide communities with the proper training, leave behind safety materials, and provide access to treatment and transportation for individuals from QRT visits,” DeFalco said.
    Moving forward DeFalco explained that a designated QRT meeting place will be established as well as taking measures to ensure that adequate transportation is accessible for individuals who may need it while undergoing treatment. She also encourages anyone who would like to volunteer in joining a QRT team to contact her. For additional help, please call the Northern Kentucky Addiction Helpline at (859) 415-9280.