NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson Health Care will receive $50,000 over the next two years from Florence Bank. The funding will underwrite a major initiative to help community members struggling with opioid-use disorders.
The Cooley Dickinson initiative will be a two-year, coordinated, comprehensive, organization-wide approach designed to prevent and treat people living with opioid-use disorders. Key components of Cooley Dickinson’s plan include education, screening, and new treatment services and interventions.
“Cooley Dickinson is a premier resource for healthcare in our region,” said John Heaps Jr., president and CEO of Florence Bank. “They have done extensive research on this growing problem here in the Pioneer Valley, and they have put a great deal of thought into how to deal with this issue. They are on the front lines of this epidemic, and we fully support their important work.”
Statistics show the seriousness of the issue. In 2016, 27 people died from opioid overdose in Hampshire County, which is an increase from 16 deaths in 2015, according to data provided by the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office. For every fatal overdose, there are between 10 and 12 which are non-fatal. In Massachusetts, only 10% of individuals using opioids receive treatment, meaning that there are 60,000 opioid users who are not treated.
“This crisis impacts the communities we all serve; these are our neighbors and friends,” Heaps said. “We believe we should all do what we can to help find a solution that is both effective and compassionate.”
Cooley Dickinson President and CEO Joanne Marqusee underscored the importance of the initiative. “We are very pleased to partner with Florence Bank on an initiative that so deeply affects our region. Cooley Dickinson recognizes opioid-use disorder is a disease, and our providers and staff treat it as a disease, not as a moral or character flaw. With this approach, we are developing a comprehensive, coordinated approach with our community partners to reduce opioid-use dependence. We are grateful to Florence Bank for sending this strong message of support and understanding to our communities in need.”
The two partnering institutions are organizing a panel discussion and community conversation, aimed at increasing awareness about opioid-use disorders and helping change the public perception of this issue from one seen through a legal perspective to one seen as people in the healthcare field see it — a medical issue. The specific date for the forum will be announced in the near future.