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Baltimore County working to address opioid crisis

Looking for public input, creating working group
Feds, advocates push pill-tracking databases
Posted at 5:08 PM, May 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-17 09:16:37-04

TOWSON, Md. — Baltimore County officials are working to address the ongoing opioid crisis.

Thursday, County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. announced plans to accelerate the county's response to the opioid crisis by engaging members of the public and convening an expert working group.

“Over the next several months the working group will gather public input, consult with our health department and other government agencies, examine data and evidence, and develop a set of actionable steps that can be taken to strategically address this opioid crisis," said Olszewski Jr.

Beginning on Thursday, residents can provide input through a survey. They will also have an opportunity to attend public meetings on Tuesday, June 18 and Wednesday, July 10, where officials and members of the working group will discuss the crisis with the community.

“We have a moral imperative to do everything within our power to respond to this devastating epidemic,” said Olszewski Jr. “Our goal is a fresh look and a strategic approach to addressing this crisis in Baltimore County.”

The members of the working group are:

  • Dr. John Chessare, President and CEO, Greater Baltimore Medical Center
  • Dr. Michelle Gourdine, Interim Chief Medical Officer, and Senior Vice President, Population Health & Primary Care, University of Maryland Medical System
  • Dr. Sunil Khushalani, Medical Director, Adult Services, Sheppard Pratt Health System
  • Dawn O’Neill, Vice President of Population Health, Saint Agnes Hospital
  • Michelle Spencer, Associate Director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Dr. Christopher Welsh, Medical Director, Outpatient Addiction Treatment Services, University of Maryland School of Medicine

The working group will receive assistance from staff at the Baltimore County Department of Health and faculty and students at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with support from the Bloomberg American Health Initiative.

Baltimore County has the second-highest number of overdose deaths in the state. In 2018, 348 people died from opioid-related overdoses, up from 323 in 2017.