The organization provides overdose awareness services for Middlesex County

Information via BHcare Alliance for prevention and well-being

MIDDLESEX COUNTY, CT – BHcare’s Prevention and Wellbeing Alliance (APW) has been piloting a post-overdose awareness program in 10 towns in Middlesex County since March of this year. This program is funded by the University of Baltimore under the Combating Overdose Through Community-level Intervention grant. The program is overseen by Director, Pam Mautte and Overdose Response Coordinator, Andrew Penna.

The Post-Overdose Awareness Program works in conjunction with the Connecticut State Police’s F Troop, East Hampton Police Department, Portland Police Department, and Middletown Adult Probation. The purpose and mission of this program is to provide aftercare for overdose survivors, bereavement support for families who witness a fatal overdose, harm reduction in the area, and prevention of substance abuse and overdoses. To date, the program has been positively received by the communities currently served.

This program also offers a Handle with Care initiative for school districts. Handle with Care involves notifying the school if an officer responds to any type of call and believes a child has been exposed to trauma. This initiative makes it possible to take an additional look at any child who suffers a trauma. The goal of the Handle with Care initiative is to reduce negative childhood experiences. East Hampton and Durham-Middlefield have implemented Handle with Care initiatives in their school systems.

Since initiating the Overdose Awareness Program, APW has received funding for another pilot program from the Center for Disease Control Foundation for a Public Health & Safety Team (PHAST). PHAST is co-chaired by Anna Gasinski of the New England High Intensity Drug Trafficking Zone and Sergeant Haley Russenberger of the Connecticut State Police. PHAST, comprised of task force members from multiple sectors such as law enforcement, public health organizations, drug-free communities and a variety of other sectors, aims to conduct capacity assessment, increase the Narcan’s access to residents, to increase data collection and to promote/make harm reduction services available to rural residents.

Part of this initiative includes a mobile harm reduction van that visits several communities in the area to deliver Narcan, clean syringes, fentanyl test strips, bandages and more. “The main purpose of this van is to meet people where they are,” Penna said. The van is available at Durham City Hall from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. every Tuesday, at the Commuter Lot located at 254 W High Street in East Hampton every Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and at suburban lot at 21 Hoop Hill Road in Chester every Thursday from 12.30pm to 1.45pm.

The Prevention and Wellness Alliance, a program of BHcare, is the Regional Behavioral Health Action Organization (RBHAO) for the DMHAS Region II service area. APW’s mission is to foster positive mental health by preventing substance abuse and other health-risk behaviors, and by creating resources that promote well-being. For more information, please visit APW-CT.org

Aubrey L. Morgan