Posted on

Opioid settlement funds making a difference to area

At the June 10 meeting of the Opioid Settlement Ad-Hoc Committee, Public Health Coordinator Melissa Moore detailed the positive impact of the public health vending machine in Taylor County so far. Among other items, the machine has distributed 164 doses of Narcan, 540 fentanyl test strips, 211 first aid kits, and 66 8-packs of condoms. Taylor County is looking at creating an outdoor location with a machine that can be accessed at all times.

The funds generated from settlements are being used to support addiction recovery services. Director of Taylor County Human Services Suzanne Stanfley stated that the county spent $300 in 2023 on gas for individuals who needed transportation to get treatment. She also said the county will be paying for 6 months of rent for one individual at a treatment facility in Eau Claire. Treatment Court Coordinator Wendy Ness reported that the funds are being used to provide family counseling sessions. Moore said the funds have been used to support the public health vending machine, provide outreach for overdose prevention, and train staff.

While the committee is utilizing the settlement funds in various ways already, it will look to push forward with a unified effort to organize a sober resource center in Taylor County. The committee voted to form a subcommittee to work on planning the center. Ness proposed the subcommittee be formed, saying, “It would be nice try to figure out funding for a sober resource center and all work toward the same thing.”

In other news, the committee is using an app and considering employing a website to promote sobriety. Taylor County already works with Chess Health Connections, a phone app dedicated to supporting sobriety efforts. Stanfley described Taylor County’s experience with the Chess Health Connections phone app as positive. She said, “We have received comments through the app. One said they were one step closer to getting their children back.”

Services on the app are available 24/7 and focus on helping people become sober. Ness commented, “It’s like facebook for sobriety. They [also] are rolling out a family and friends portion of the app so they also have resources to turn to.”

Man Therapy is the online service the committee is considering implementing. Health Officer Michelle Cahoon said, “Man therapy is an online health platform for males and their families/support people. It focuses on rural males. There’s a lot of people that can really connect with it. It is kind of like another 988, but it focuses on the male population because there is such a stigma. I think they will use it because they can use it at home. There are no names attached. You can be completely anonymous.”

Man Therapy focuses its outreach in places like bars, where QR codes are placed on posters or coasters for men to scan and get started. Cahoon is working with Man Therapy to get an exact quote on what it would cost to bring the program to Taylor County.

Updates on settlement amounts for Taylor County were given at the meeting. Here is a list of them: Allergan$4,767.44, CVS- $6,201.92, Teva- $4,308.60, Walgreens Parts 1 and 2- $7,220.73 and $4,766.17, Walmart Part 1$41,987.66.

In other business, the total checkbook balance was reported at $160,401.57. The committee voted to recommend to the full county board that Taylor County join the Kroger Settlement/Class Action.