Elected Officials, Health Care Providers, Community Leaders and First Responders Partner to Address Increase in Opioid Deaths in Eastern Middlesex County

Medford, MA – Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan and State Senator Jason Lewis (D) Winchester, in partnership with Hallmark Health System, held the first meeting of the Eastern Middlesex Opioid Task Force yesterday at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

The Opioid Task Force will focus on combating the increase in drug overdoses in the eastern region of Middlesex County, serving the communities of Malden, Medford, Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Stoneham, and Wakefield. Twenty percent of the overdose deaths in Middlesex County in 2015 occurred in these communities, with 80 percent of those deaths caused by heroin.

“As District Attorney, I have seen first-hand the devastating impact of the opioid crisis,” said District Attorney Marian Ryan. “We have focused our efforts on taking a multi-pronged approach – one that encompasses education, prevention, intervention, treatment and the prosecution of individuals who profit from those in the throes of addiction. By launching the Eastern Middlesex Opioid Task Force, we are continuing our work of building stronger communities through promoting cross-sector, interdisciplinary solutions to address critical matters of public health and public safety.”

As District Attorney, Marian Ryan has worked to combat the opioid epidemic by:

Establishing the Lowell Opioid Task Force with State Senator Eileen Donoghue in 2012;
Advocating for the opening of a Drug Court in Lowell;
Hosting training seminars for police, firefighters, and EMTs on how to administer Narcan;
Providing cities and towns with approximately 600 doses of Narcan, funded entirely through drug forfeiture revenue collected by the DA’s Office;
Hosting training for doctors, dentists and other healthcare providers on how to identify drug seeking indicators and how to better access and manage pain;
Filing legislation that would limit opiate prescriptions from an Emergency Department or walk-in clinic to a 72 hour supply;
Filing legislation to regulate a new synthetic chemical drug, NBOIMe – often referred to as “N-bomb.” N-bomb is illegal under federal drug laws but not yet classified as a controlled substance in Massachusetts;
· Filing legislation that creates a charging option for individuals whose drug distribution activities cause the death of another person, and,
· Providing cities and towns with drug collection boxes for the public to safely dispose of unused or expired medicines;

“The Opioid Task Force promises to do the critically important work of bringing together a broad network of stakeholders from across our communities to thoughtfully and comprehensively address challenges we face in tackling addiction and abuse,” said Senator Lewis. “I commend District Attorney Ryan for her leadership in this effort, and I thank the many participants, representing a wide array of backgrounds, for their commitment and insight.”
“We are proud to be working in partnership with the Eastern Middlesex Opioid Task Force,” Alan Macdonald, President and CEO of Hallmark Health System added. “For nearly five years, Hallmark Health System has been working closely with our communities to address the growing opioid epidemic. Our clinicians see the devastating effects of opioid addiction every day. Building a multidisciplinary task force such as this to address this epidemic in our communities is an important and necessary step.”
Members of the of the Eastern Middlesex Opioid Task Force include first responders, police and fire officials, municipal health workers, doctors, nurses, social workers, substance abuse counselors, community-based advocates and probation officers. In addition to District Attorney Ryan and Senator Lewis, the Task Force is comprised of numerous elected officials, public administrators, and health care executives, including:

U.S. Representative Katherine Clark
State Representative Paul Brodeur
State Representative Michael Day
State Representative Paul Donato
Sheriff Peter Koutoujian
Medford City Councilor Paul Camusso

Alan Macdonald, President and CEO, Hallmark Health System
Gerald MacKillop, Jr., Director of Community Relations, Lahey Health
Dr. Brian O’Connor, Middlesex Recovery, P.C.
Dr. Francis A. Carmichael, F. A. Carmichael Dentistry, Inc.
Richard Raymond, CEO, Armstrong Ambulance Service
Ronald Quaranto, COO, Cataldo Ambulance Service
Josh Ramos, Clinical Director, Action Ambulance Service

Chief James Cormier, Reading Police Department
Chief Michael Lyle, Melrose Police Department
Chief Rick Smith, Wakefield Police Department
Chief Michael Murphy, North Reading Police Department
Chief James McIntyre, Stoneham Police Department
Chief Kevin Molis, Malden Police Department
Chief Leo Sacco, Medford Police Department
Chief Gregory Burns, Reading Fire Department
Chief John “Jack” Colangeli, Malden Fire Department

Middlesex County is the most-populous county in Massachusetts and one of the most-populous counties in the country with 54 towns and cities comprising over one quarter of the population of Massachusetts. The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office has offices throughout the county, including in Ayer, Cambridge, Concord, Framingham, Lowell, Malden, Marlborough, Newton, Somerville, Waltham and Woburn.

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