PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force met for the first time today to kick-start the development of a statewide strategy to prevent and treat drug addiction and reverse the rising tide of overdose deaths in Rhode Island.
Task force co-chairs Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, and Maria Montanaro, MSW, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals laid out the group's charge, which includes delivering an action plan to Raimondo by November with clear goals, objectives, and metrics to combat the state's addiction and overdose crisis.
"The plan we are developing will save lives, help more Rhode Islanders regain their lives, and build healthier and stronger communities," said Alexander-Scott. "It will be data-driven and a collaborative effort at every turn. Under Governor Raimondo's leadership and the wealth of experience and knowledge from task force members, academic experts and the recovery community, we are focusing on the things that we know will work to reduce addiction and overdose in Rhode Island."
"We recognize there is no simple solution to addiction and overdose, and we certainly have our work cut out for us," said Montanaro. "However, we know that the committed group of stakeholders on this task force are up to the challenge of confronting this issue in a focused, actionable way. We are already hard at work to move our state to a stronger, healthier place."
Local public health and addiction experts Josiah D. Rich, MD, MPH and Traci C. Green, PhD, MSc presented the data-driven approach and timeline that will guide the group's strategic planning effort and help the task force develop initiatives to reduce addiction and overdose deaths in Rhode Island. Rich and Green are part of the team of public health experts at Brown University, the Miriam Hospital and Johns Hopkins University who will advise the task force and provide technical assistance in the development of an action plan.
"The Governor has put together some of the most committed, knowledgeable people in the state to work together on the task force," said Green. "We are looking forward to working with them to develop a focused strategic plan which we are hopeful will make a meaningful difference in combating this crisis."
Raimondo created the task force earlier this month as part of her efforts to address Rhode Island's addiction and overdose crisis and build stronger communities and a more vibrant economy. The task force will hold public meetings monthly.