New resources tapped in fight against opioid epidemic: ‘We want to get the message out to people’

MILWAUKEE — The fight against the opioid epidemic drags on — and now more than ever, resources are needed to help prevent usage and overdoses.

With ten probable overdose deaths this past weekend along, MORI, the Milwaukee Overdose Response Initiative, is a collaboration between the health department and fire department. It is working to prevent overdoses and streamline care for those struggling with addiction.

“Really address some inequities that we have in our community. The haves and have not, who has the means to be able to be admitted to a recovery center, and who doesn’t even know how to go about doing it — is about linking people to care and supporting them in their time of need,” said Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik.

Jeanette Kowalik

With a recent grant of $500,000 that was awarded from the National Association of City-County Health Officials, they are able to help combat opioid addiction on a larger scale.

Capt. Michael Wright

“We send out two community paramedics every day with a peer support specialist with us to visit people who we know have overdosed in the last 24 hours,” said Capt. Michael Wright of the Milwaukee Fire Department. “We go find them, whether they are at home or in the hospital, wherever they are, and we work on helping them through their problems all the way up to include getting them into treatment.”

Capt. Wright said they have seen big results after now doubling their efforts — and they are saving lives every day.

“We want to get the message out to people that there are resources available in our community,” Kowalik said.

The initial grant is set to expire next month. But it has been extended another year with new plans for focusing on trauma and trauma-related death. Anyone in need of services is urged to call 211.

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