In this episode, we talk with Monika Salvage, Project Director for the HEALing Communities Study.
HEALing Communities is a project that’s been in existence in Cayuga County for a little over two years. The HEALing team that was funded by the a state grant combines expertise in substance use disorder, project management, communications, peer work, community outreach, how to navigate local services, data analysis, health research, and facilitating organizational change. In collaboration with community partners, the team collected and analyzed near-real-time overdose data, which helped them identify susceptible populations, geographic areas of need, and any potentially concerning trends in a timely manner. It also allowed us to facilitate the implementation of targeted programs to ensure access to care where and when it is needed. This infrastructure did not exist before the grant.
Monika recently made a presentation to the Auburn City Council in which she pointed out there were nearly as many overdose deaths in Cayuga County in 2020 as there were deaths due to COVID-19.
The project’s steering committee is made of members of other groups battling the problem of addiction, giving it a unified approach. Cayuga County is one of 67 counties and communities in four states invited to take part in the project. The goal is to reduce opioid overdoses by 40% over a three-year period. The research effort is being led by Columbia University.