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Mayor Sarno Announces Initiatives and Programs from Opioid Settlement Agreement

Springfield, MA – Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Health and Human Services (HHS) Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris, Chief Administrative and Financial Officer (CAFO) TJ Plante, Fire Commissioner BJ Calvi and Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood announced today details from the City of Springfield’s opioid settlement agreement.  Under the State-Subdivision Allocation Agreement from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, the city will receive $7,235,012 payable in installments beginning in 2022 and ending 2038.

In addition, Mayor Sarno and the City of Springfield filed a separate independent lawsuit against the pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors for their alleged role in fueling the opioid crisis and the crippling cost associated with it.  That lawsuit, which was filed in Hampden Superior Court in 2018, is still pending.

Mayor Sarno has indicated that the payments will go towards a wide variety of initiatives and programs that will enhance and expand the City of Springfield’s opioid response, and create systems in partnership with local nonprofits, health organizations and community stakeholders.  Below are some of the key items that the City will be looking to implement to enhance the City of Springfield’s opioid response plan.

The Department of Health and Human Services

·         Purchase specialized vehicle to enhance opioid related response

·         Strengthen behavioral health component

·         Strengthen partnerships with community stakeholders

·         Create networking opportunities to improve relationships among providers, families and those in recovery to enhance systems to exchange of information and facilitate referrals

·         Conduct studies and assessments of the behavioral workforce to identify training needs, capacity and competency gaps

·         Create a real-time data collection system that allows providers, users, their relatives and friends to find up-to-date availability in detox services and residential treatment options

·         Develop a community wide opioid overdose response plan

Fire Department

·         Purchase new equipment and supplies

·         Create two full-time response teams

o   Increase service in the busiest overdose areas

o   Decrease response time

o   Allow for more resources for all calls citywide

o   Increase interoperability

Police Department

·         Increase and enhance Narcan training for officers

·         Training to respond for early intervention strategies and procedures to connect opioid addicted individuals with the appropriate health services and other qualified designated agencies

·         Purchase equipment and supplies for officers to carry for effective and rapid response

·         Software, training and hiring additional crime analyst

Mayor Sarno states, “The damage inflicted by the opioid crisis to Springfield’s most precious resource, our residents, has been tremendous and will take Herculean efforts from the city, nonprofits, our community partners and stakeholders to repair.  I want to thank Attorney General Maura Healey for her leadership and efforts in holding these pharmaceutical companies accountable for contributing to this opioid crisis.  We all have or know of a family member or friend that has been affected by the scourge of opioids.  Some beat it but some do not.  I want to thank my dedicated city team, Sheriff Nick Cocchi and all of our community partners for their continued unyielding efforts in working together to help those get the treatment and resources they need to heal from this opioid situation.  I will continue to be steadfast in working with my dedicated city team and all of our community partners and stakeholders to help those in need and secure whatever resources are necessary.”

HHS Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris stated, “I want to thank Mayor Sarno for his continued leadership and advocacy in working to address this opioid crisis.  The Department of Health and Human Services is dedicated to establishing and enhancing these initiatives and programs in partnership with our community stakeholders to address and help with the City of Springfield’s opioid response plan.  We will look at the data, look to expand successful programs, include the community of users and people in recovery to close gaps and increase communication and help identify treatment options and facilitate referrals.  The Springfield Department of Health and Human Services want to be inclusive with all of those in the community to help address the feelings of social isolation, exclusion and identify the root causes of substance abuse and inequities.  This funding will help enhance our response plan to identity hurdles and create opportunities to implement initiatives and programs to help save lives.”

Fire Commissioner BJ Calvi added, “The Springfield Fire Department will utilize the funding from the City of Springfield’s opioid settlement agreement to purchase new equipment and supplies for our firefighters.  SFD will create two full-time response teams that will be trained, equipped and ready to respond to any opioid overdoses and other calls for service.  By having these two dedicated specialized units we will increase service in the busiest overdose areas and decrease response times while allowing more resources for all calls citywide.”

Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood said, “The goal for the Springfield Police Department is to increase the ability of the individual officer on patrol to rapidly and effectively respond to an opioid overdose through increased training, improved accessibility to necessary equipment and strategically deploying officers to areas of high overdose activity.  Additionally, continued training, software and adding another Crime Analyst for our Real Time Crime Analysis Center, which serves as a major role for how the Police Department and Fire Department responds to an opioid related incident, would help our efforts in responding and working with our healthcare professionals.  I want to thank Mayor Sarno for his continued support and allocating this funding to the Police Department as part of the city’s opioid response plan.  During most opioid related calls, it is an police officer who is usually the first to arrive on scene.  This funding will allow SPD to achieve these objectives by continuing to enhance training for our officers, especially with Narcan, and by purchasing additional medical equipment such as medical bags with tourniquet kits, automated external defibrillators (AED) and Narcan pouches for our officers to carry.”

Mayor Sarno added, “I appreciate the efforts of retired City Solicitor Ed Pikula and current City Solicitor Judge John Payne for their continued efforts as we continue to pursue our separate lawsuit against these pharmaceutical manufacturers.  The toll the opioid crisis has put upon the city, our residents and our families cannot be measured.  The loss of life and strain put upon our city services and resources with raising costs of treatment and social services will impact us for years to come.  My administration will continue to go after and hold those responsible for bringing this poison into our community by systematically working to deceive doctors and patients, including vulnerable groups such as the elderly and our veterans, about the highly addictive nature of prescription opioids and the appropriateness of these drugs for chronic pain management.”