Schuh declares heroin use a public health emergency

| January 27, 2015 | 4 Comments
Steve Schuh

Steve Schuh, Anne Arundel County Executive

Surrounded by medical professionals, citizens, advocates, and the newly formed Heroin Action Taskforce, County Executive Steve Schuh today announced an executive order declaring a county-wide heroin public health emergency, directing county agencies to use “all best efforts” to eradicate the use of heroin in Anne Arundel County.

“While we will not win this war overnight, we must act now by taking steps to turn the tide of heroin abuse in our county,” said Schuh. “By declaring this county in the midst of a heroin public health emergency, our county departments can shift their resources to address this mounting crisis.”

Schuh also announced his intention to introduce, and testify on behalf of, a resolution in the Anne Arundel County Council addressing the heroin epidemic.

Schuh was joined at today’s event by his Heroin Action Taskforce, a group comprised of government officials whose recommendations will form the basis for the county’s Heroin Action Plan.  The group includes Police Chief Tim Altomare, County Health Officer Jinlene Chan, School Superintendent George Arlotto, States Attorney Wes Adams, Sheriff Ron Bateman, and Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides, each of whom spoke during the event.

“I’d like to thank all those who’ve given their time to join this effort, especially Mayor Pantelides,” said Schuh. “His commitment to working with us on this critical issue will ensure we can attack this problem at every level of government.”

Speaker of the House of Delegates Michael Busch also spoke during the event. 

Two Anne Arundel County citizens, Ann Youngblood and Eileen Bolotin, also attended the announcement and described how the heroin epidemic has personally impacted their lives. Youngblood lost a son to an overdose. Bolotin is mother of three teenage girls, one of whom is battling heroin addiction.

Schuh was also joined by Victoria Bayless, president and CEO of Anne Arundel Medical Center, who hosted the event.

“We are supportive of the county’s urgent efforts to put policies in place to improve intervention and access to treatment,” says Bayless. “Drug and alcohol abuse is rampant in every area of this community—it’s a disease just like cancer or heart disease or diabetes. Children, men and women deserve the same compassion, support and care that patients with other diseases receive.”

The Taskforce’s Herion Action Plan, which will include recommendations for expanded treatment, education, and enforcement efforts, is currently being finalized and will be released in mid-February.

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