Wednesday, February 8, 2023

One year in, Wilmington City Council gets an update on ‘Quick Response Team’

Wilmington’s Quick Response Team, a state-funded pilot program to address the region’s opioid epidemic, hit the six-month mark recently, providing an opportunity to review how its been operating. (Port City Daily photo / Benjamin Schachtman)

WILMINGTON — It’s been a little more than a year into the implementation of the City of Wilmington’s ‘Quick Response Team,’ a pilot program designed to help deal with the region’s opioid crisis.

The idea was to create a team of professionals who would meet with overdose survivors and offer them resources to try and get them into treatment. It was an ambitious plan that was granted $500,000 for a two-year pilot program modeled after a similar program from Colerain, Ohio.

Related: Officials, local delegation launch pilot program ‘Quick Response Team’ against opioid addiction

This week, Wilmington’s City Council was given an update on the Quick Response Team (QRT) and a look towards the future.

Assistant to the City Manager for Legislative Affairs Tony McEwen offered a brief update on where the state is on funding the program saying the current state budget does have an additional $250,000 included in it for the program, but that budget is subject to changes.

“As you know the budget is a little bit in limbo and therefore our third year funding is a little bit in limbo,” McEwen said.

By the numbers

It sounds like a good idea, but how effective is it?

“In its first year the QRT made contact with 148 overdose survivors and connected 82% of them to treatment,” according to Monday’s presentation.

Heading into its second fiscal year, the program has already made contact with 66 additional survivors, 87% of whom they were able to connect to treatment (note: unlike a regular calendar year, the city’s fiscal year runs from July 1 — June 30).

Each month the program is seeing anywhere from 12–17 people actually entering treatment. When it comes to the demographics, the program is seeing more females on average than males and their age ranges are generally between 25 and 44.

South East Area Health Education Center (SEAHEC) Associate Director Olivia Herndon also offered leaders a look into how the crisis is being addressed in the region.

One of the biggest things that have changed in the area is the prescribing rate for narcotic drugs, Herndon said. From 2016 to 2018, the prescription of narcotics has dropped 40% in New Hanover County.

Health care providers are also finding new and effective ways of treating pain without using opiates, she said. The community as a whole is also doing better at disposing of their medications through secure methods, this is significant because of the number of heroin addicts who started their addiction from prescription medications.

“We know that about 3/4ths of people addicted to heroin began that journey using prescription medication. We know about 3/4ths of those people were not using their own prescribed medications,” she said.

In October a medication takeback event was held and in just four hours, over 6,000 pounds of medications were taken back.

Read more: A financial look at Wilmington’s Quick Response Team: How the $500,000 is being spent


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