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Jordan Dennison, left, of First Choice Services, and Allyson Foster, of Marshall Health, work as recovery coaches with the newly formed Putnam QRT. The team meets with clients throughout Putnam County and distributes information to others in the community.

HUNTINGTON — Marshall Health, in partnership with a dozen local emergency response and nonprofit organizations, is leading community efforts to launch a mobile outreach team, or quick response team (QRT), in Putnam County. The QRT will work to help reduce overdoses, overdose fatalities and connect individuals with substance use disorder to treatment.

The Putnam County QRT incorporates a “meet people where they are” philosophy, meaning that face-to-face encounters are most effective in helping individuals take the first step toward recovery. QRT members travel throughout Putnam County, including rural communities, to meet with individuals and help assess their recovery needs, identify treatment options and overcome barriers to accessing treatment.

After implementing a QRT in 2017, Cabell County’s fatal overdose rate fell 24% from 2017 to 2018, according to the most recent CDC data, and nonfatal overdose calls fell 52% from 2017 to 2019. Program organizers are hoping for similar positive outcomes in Putnam County, where the number of drug-related overdoses steadily increased in both 2019 and 2020, according to the West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy.

As an integrated community QRT, the team will work alongside EMS, law enforcement and peer recovery support specialists to act as a referral system for individuals looking for recovery services. Partnering organizations include Putnam County EMS, Putnam County Health Department, CAMC-Teays Valley, Family Care, First Choice Services, Jade’s Landing, Marshall Health, Prestera, Putnam Wellness Coalition, Regional Family Resource Network, Teays Valley Church of God and The Rock.

“We all have the same goal of building a healthy community, and we can more effectively leverage our resources by working together,” said Tina Ramirez, director of the Great Rivers Regional System for Addiction Care at Marshall Health and project director for the Putnam County QRT. “Marshall Health’s longstanding ties within the community as a health care provider and ongoing efforts as part of the Great Rivers project uniquely position us to help facilitate local efforts to address this need.”

The QRT members also maintain contact with overdose survivors who are not ready for treatment and provide them with naloxone and necessary training on how to administer it should they need it. The Putnam QRT will also work to train more first responders and community members on administering naloxone with ongoing training opportunities. In the coming months, the Putnam County QRT will also deploy a mobile unit in order to meet with individuals in a safe space outside their homes that adheres to COVID-19 safety guidelines.

For more information or to request a visit for yourself or a loved one, contact the Putnam County QRT at 304-397-0918 or putnamqrt@gmail.com.

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