Health Officials Eye Recovery Stations To Help Addicts

SNOW HILL – The Worcester County Health Department is seeking the community’s support to launch a pilot program that offers recovery stations to those seeking help for their addiction.

On Monday, April 15, the health department will host a public meeting with community stakeholders to discuss a grant-funded program that establishes recovery stations in Worcester County.

Jennifer LaMade, the health department’s director of planning, said the program allows those seeking help for addiction to walk into a fire station or police station and receive assistance.

“What we want is a place where individuals walk in, feel welcomed, have their needs met and then have our crisis response team and peer support workers help them start their recovery,” she said.

LaMade explained the health department’s initiative is modeled after a program first developed in Gloucester, Mass.

“We always look for programs that are innovative and gets people into treatment …,” she said. “We saw that this program was replicated across the nation, and last year Anne Arundel County opened up their own safe stations.”

LaMade noted the recent success of safe stations in Anne Arundel County. Last year, for example, its fire stations served 666 people seeking treatment for addiction.

“People from other jurisdictions were even coming into its stations,” she said.

To that end, the health department applied for and received a $17,000 grant from the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration to begin planning a pilot program for Worcester County. The agency also received a substantial grant from Mid Shore Mental Health Systems on behalf of the Behavioral Health Administration to implement the program ahead of the summer season.

“We are starting with one recovery station,” LaMade said. “We will pilot that and see if we want to do something like Anne Arundel County did where every fire station is a recovery station.”

LaMade said the health department is looking to launch its first recovery station at the north end of Worcester County, where most overdoses occur.

But to make the program a reality, LaMade said the health department is seeking the support of the community. In addition to a stakeholder meeting, the health department will also seek expressions of interest from fire stations, police stations, recovery centers and others interested in serving as a recovery station.

“There is money in the grant for a stipend to entities serving as a recovery station,” she said. “So there is some benefit.”

Officials with the health department said recovery stations are needed in Worcester County.

“Maryland is one of the top 10 states in the nation for overdose deaths. It’s not where we want to be …,” LaMade said. “This is a way for people who are ready to get help immediately.”

Travis Brown, the health department’s public information officer, agreed.

“This is an important program that’s going to help those in the community survive and thrive,” he said. “Hopefully the community can partner with us because it takes a village.”

A public meeting for community stakeholders will be held at 3 p.m. on Monday, April 15, at the Worcester County Health Department, located at 6040 Public Landing Road in Snow Hill.

For more information, call the Worcester County Health Department at 410-632-1100, or email Jennifer LaMade at [email protected] or Sue Buhrt at [email protected].

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.