The Hamilton County Coalition was recently awarded the Tennessee Community CARES grant to offer free overdose prevention, and COVID-19 resources to the public. These resources include virtual overdose prevention and Naloxone training events. The training sessions demonstrate how to prevent and reverse an opioid overdose. In addition, the instruction educates participants on the effects opioids have on the brain, signs of an overdose, and Naloxone administration — the life-saving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The Hamilton County Coalition also offers primary prevention resources by distributing medication lock boxes and Deterra Drug Deactivation Pouches to keep medicines safe in the home. The Coalition also provides COVID-19 safety kits which include masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, and helpful information on staying safe during the pandemic.
These resources are funded under a grant contract with the State of Tennessee, free to the public and can be accessed by visiting www.hccoalition.org and completing a request form, or by calling 423-305-1449.
This Initiative is in response to the elevated overdoses and COVID-19 cases in Chattanooga and Southeast Tennessee. Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March, there have been 567 overdoses recorded in Southeast Tennessee according to data from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) DI3 reporting system. Seventy-seven percent of those overdoses are linked to Hamilton County, while the remaining overdoses account for Bradley, Bledsoe, Grundy, Marion, McMinn, Rhea, Sequatchie, Meigs and Polk counties. During this same time frame, more than 570 doses of Narcan have been used to reverse an opioid overdose (TBI DI3 reporting system). According to this data, the use of Narcan helped save an overdose victims life more than 85% of the time in Southeast Tennessee during the pandemic.
“COVID-19 cases and overdose rates have been on the same trajectory in our region since the pandemic began,” Hamilton County Coalition Executive Director Camilla Bibbs said. “The isolation and uncertainty from the shutdown, and the restrictions at jobs and schools have put people under a lot of stress. That combination of factors has certainly contributed to the increase in substance misuse.
“Even with the brief uptick in our numbers, overdose and overdose deaths are preventable. However, it is critical to recognize the signs and have the prevention and treatment resources readily available to save lives, ” Ms. Bibbs continued.
The Tennessee Department of Human Services, along with Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group created the Tennessee Community CARES Program to invest $150 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds to help with ongoing efforts to address health and economic needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic.