Lawrence M. Walsh
Will County officials announced today a vital partnership with Joliet Township to support the Safe Passage initiative, a critical strategy to reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths in the county. The Safe Passage Program facilitates rapid entry into substance abuse treatment while also serving as a crime prevention strategy and deflects people addicted to drugs away from the criminal justice system.
Through the Will County Safe Passage Initiative, any resident who suffers with an opiate addiction can go to one of the participating police departments and ask for help. Currently, the program is being offered through the Mokena, Lockport, Romeoville, Lemont, and Braidwood (CHANGE) police departments. Dr. Kathleen Burke, Director of Substance Use Initiatives is coordinating the program through the County Executive’s office. To date, 49 people have been connected to treatment through this program.
“I am proud Joliet Township has agreed to partner with us on this important program,” said County Executive Larry Walsh. “Opiate addiction is claiming more lives each year. The key to reducing overdose deaths is to get people into treatment. This program offers a way for people to access treatment without having to get arrested and into our judicial system. Working together with other governmental bodies and stakeholders we are making progress against these horrible addictions.”
Through a $150,000 grant provided by Joliet Township, Safe Passage will be able to offer social work support services to assist the participating police departments in quickly accessing services for clients of the Safe Passage program. A social worker(s) will be on call 24 hours a day to facilitate smooth transitions into treatment for these clients. The grant will also support expansion of the program to other interested communities and support treatment costs for the uninsured or underinsured.
“We understand the importance of this program and we are happy to be able to help support this effort,” said Dan Vera, Joliet Township supervisor. “The opioid crisis has a broad reach across the entire country and we are proud to work with Will County to reduce opioid deaths”
After meeting with an individual in the police department, a social worker will be able to assess which type of service is needed and be able to make arrangements for detox, medically-assisted treatment, inpatient or outpatient care. The social worker will assist with insurance issues and provide comprehensive care management for long term recovery.
“It is critical to connect someone who has come into one of our participating police departments with services as quickly as possible,” said Burke. “We are grateful to Joliet Township for this generous donation. This will enable us to sustain and expand this program to help as many people as we can.
“Recovery is a lifelong process. Having this social work support of the Safe Passage program will allow for a continuum of care that will encourage success.”