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Tom Watkins
Tom Watkins

Mental Health Authority Partners with First Responders

July 7, 2017 

The Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority (DWMHA) launched its Naloxone training and kits just over a year ago, saving over 52 lives! DWMHA trained over 1,900 first responders, substance use treatment and prevention providers, faith-based personnel and everyday people. The scope of our collective work is obvious in the immediate lives saved, not to mention the countless family members and friends that can rejoice that their loved one has another chance at recovery and life.

Be very clear: Michigan has an opioid epidemic. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 52,404 people died of overdoses in 2015.  Michigan’s drug-related deaths climbed from 1,553 in 2013 to 1,980 in 2015.  Michigan ranks 10th nationally in per capita prescription rates of opioid pain relievers and 18th in the nation for all overdose deaths.

DWMHA held two major events that focused on stemming the tide of this alarming trend.  The first was our 2nd Annual Opioid Abuse and Heroin Overdose Summit, organized by the Greater Detroit Area Health Council and the DWMHA, held Thursday, May 11 in Livonia, together, we hosted over 500 professionals and community leaders focused on prevention, treatment and recovery.

We also worked with our federal, state and county law enforcement partners to organize a Community Town Hall Meeting on the Heroin and Opioid Prescription Epidemic held Wednesday, June 14th at Wayne State University with the DEA, FBI, U.S. Attorney General’s Office, Michigan Attorney General’s Office Michigan State Police and Detroit Police Department.  Here we led a panel discussion on the issue to enhance our coordination with the community around combating the epidemic.

On June 21st DWMHA celebrated its progress with an Annual Meeting and Community Celebration Luncheon at Burton Manor in Livonia. During the luncheon DWMHA recognized individuals for literally saving lives in battling the Opioid epidemic with the Naloxone kits.  A hush fell over the room as the mistress of ceremonies, WDIV-TV Karen Drew called the names of the men and women in blue as they came up to be recognized and awarded for their life-saving efforts:

  • Dearborn Police Department – Sergeant Vincent Belloli and Officers Mohamed Farhat, Michael Hammoud, Nickolas Hook and Brenton King.

Dearborn Police Sergeant Vincent Belloli and Officers Mohamed Farhat, Michael Hammoud, Nickolas Hook and Brenton King. Mayor Jack O’Reilly, Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad, DWMHA Board Chair Dr. Herb Smitherman, DWMHA Director of SUD Services Darlene Owens, Chief Medical Officer Carmen MacIntyre and DWMHA President and CEO Tom Watkins

  • Detroit Police Department – Corporal Gary Steele and Officer Joseph Borkowski

Detroit Police Corporal Gary Steele and Lieutenant Sherell Stanley accepting for Officer Joseph Borkowski, DWMHA Board Chair Dr. Herb Smitherman, DWMHA Director of SUD Services Darlene Owens, Chief Medical Officer Carmen MacIntyre and DWMHA President and CEO Tom Watkins

  • Inkster Police Department – Officers Susan Beauvais and Chad Hassen

Inkster Police Officers Susan Beauvais and Chad Hassen, Inkster Police Chief William Riley, DWMHA Board Chair Dr. Herb Smitherman, DWMHA Director of SUD Services Darlene Owens, Chief Medical Officer Carmen MacIntyre and DWMHA President and CEO Tom Watkins.

  • Michigan State Police – Troopers Mark Bessner Micah Keller, Timothy Madison, Lisa Smith, Trooper and Jordan Walker

Michigan State Police First Lieutenant Denise Powell accepting for absent Troopers, Troopers Mark Bessner Micah Keller, Timothy Madison, Lisa Smith and Jordan Walker along with DWMHA Board Chair Dr. Herb Smitherman, DWMHA Director of SUD Services Darlene Owens, Chief Medical Officer Carmen MacIntyre and DWMHA President and CEO Tom Watkins.

  • Southgate Police Department – Sergeant David Grondin and Officers Andrew Boski, Nathan Mosczynski, Keith Shurkus

Southgate Police Chief Brett Selby accepting on behalf of Southgate Police Sergeant David Grondin and Officers Andrew Boski, Nathan Mosczynski, Keith Shurkus along with DWMHA Board Chair Dr. Herb Smitherman, DWMHA Director of SUD Services Darlene Owens, Chief Medical Officer Carmen MacIntyre and DWMHA President and CEO Tom Watkins.

In addition to our law enforcement partners, we have exceptional collaboration and cooperation from municipalities throughout Wayne County. Notable leaders in attendance for the DWMHA Community Celebration included Mayor Bill Wild of Westland and Mayor Jack O’Reilly of Dearborn. 

Mayor Wild said, “We are extremely proud of the partnerships we have developed with DWMHA, from faith-based initiatives, cultural and inclusiveness training, Mental Health First Aid, Suicide Prevention and Naloxone training and investing in our youth with summer employment programs.” He continued, “together, we are adding value and making a difference.”

Mayor Riley said, “I know how important it is for our police officers to have the best training and the tools to do their difficult jobs, and proud that the city and Chief Haddad make sure that they have it. Knowing that our officers were able to save lives is a testament to them and our entire department.

“There is not a single zip-code that has not been touched by the Opioid epidemic, we are always pleased and appreciative to partner with our colleagues at the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority to help meet a community need,” added O’Reilly.

According to Dr. Carmen McIntyre, DWMHA’s Chief Medical Officer who has trained the first responders in the use of the Naloxone kits “Our first responders were a great first phase. We now make an appeal to our direct care workers, teachers, community and faith-based leaders to have the compassion and go the extra mile should they encounter individuals experiencing an opioid overdose. Our trainings are open to all,” said McIntyre.

Chief Riley of the Inkster Policy and a member of the DWMHA Substance Use Disorder Oversight Policy Board was beaming with pride as Officers Susan Beauvais and Chad Hassen received a standing ovation for saving four lives. “Policing is more than simply locking people up,” the chief pointed out, “we need to build trust and partnership so we can truly serve and protect.” 

Darlene Owens, DWMHA Director of Substance Use Disorder Services continues to provide evidenced based initiative and develops innovative practices to help prevent, treat and assist persons with substance use issues on the road to recovery.

“We are in constant support of our law enforcement partners as they are on the front lines of the epidemic with us,” said Owens. “Their vigilance in combating this issue is key to our success and we are here to help facilitate and equip them with the tools necessary to serve, protect and save lives every day.”                                    

Darryl Dewberry, who has been in recovery for 19 years and leads Abundant Recovery Services in Wayne County, had the DWMHA annual luncheon crowd in awe as he spoke eloquently about his road to recovery.  Raised on the east-side of Detroit by four generations of mothers, grandmothers and aunts each having experienced addiction, Dewberry worked hard and made it to the NFL.

He played one season, was injured the next, and battled addiction thereafter.  After witnessing his mother’s passing, he vowed to change his game plan.  His spirit along with the encouragement of others and DWMHA helped him rise above and help others win their fight.

His story is one example of how the kindness and support can be the spark needed for a lifetime of recovery.  Through Dewberry’s Abundant Recovery Services, staffer Shirley Tolton saved four lives utilizing DWMHA Naloxone kits. Tolton, also in recovery, was recognized at the luncheon.

Additional Efforts in Battling Addiction

DWMHA has also worked collaboratively with our community partners to set up 22 Prescription Drug Take Back sites around Wayne County to safely dispose of old and unwanted prescription drugs. DWMHA just purchased 20 permanent Prescription Drug Take Back Boxes to be placed inside local police departments. To find the collection site nearest you visit www.dwmha.com.

For the last two years we have had a successful substance abuse education campaign with billboards and buses around Detroit and Wayne County. Our data shows that our billboards are the second highest resource, next to our provider network for referral calls into our crisis line for people seeking service.

DWMHA makes Deterra bags available at no charges to residents, which provide a convenient, discreet, environmentally and socially responsible method for getting rid of unused, unwanted, or expired prescription pills, liquids, and patches.   Medications are deactivated, rendering them ineffective for misuse or abuse.  The biodegradable bags contain an activated carbon that breaks down chemical compounds in the drugs, making them safe for landfill disposal.   

Drug overdoses are a leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24. DWMHA is reaching out to local schools to provide Naloxone and prevention trainings and other anti-drug resources to the schools, especially middle and high schools. Currently DWMHA has school-based mental health counselors in over 70 Wayne County schools.

If we are going to slow and ultimately reverse this epidemic, physicians must stop overprescribing. The opioid epidemic is a symptom of the easy access to prescription drugs, low cost of obtaining potent heroin and the angst brought about by the economic disruption ripping families and communities apart. With threats coming at the federal level to disrupt and cut substance abuse programs helping to fight this epidemic, it’s time to get active and make a difference.

With proper diagnosis, treatment and support recovery is possible– we witness it every day.

Dr. Herb Smitherman, MD, chair of the DWMHA Board and vice dean of the college of Medicine at WSU summed up the day and the heroic efforts of the first responders and the DWMHA collaborative efforts with a sincere, “Thank you!”

If you know someone who is in need of substance use or mental health services, please call our 24Hr Crisis Helpline at 800-241-4949.

Tom Watkins is the president and CEO of the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority (www.dwmha.comHe can be emailed at: tdwatkins88@gmail.com, or followed on twitter at:@tdwatkins88

 

July 6, 2017 · Filed under Tom Watkins

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Anagnorisis // Jul 7, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Evidently the 1960s had much influence on this expansion of drug use. I myself am a drug addict having been prescribed an opiate for neuropathic tremors. You never know what your septuagenarian neighbor is into. Far out, man.

  • 2 Mark Francis // Jul 8, 2017 at 9:10 am

    As the current administration continues to look at ways to slash needed programs, the data here would suggest that any such cuts would be short sighted. The fact that this program saved 52 lives is testimony in itself to the need. Plus the family members that it spared the pain of a loved one dying. Thank you for the work and the information. I am sure that this has been shared with leaders in Lansing and hopefully in DC.


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