Raimondo appoints task force on Opioid Crisis

Raimondo Moves to Tackle Opioid Crisis, Appoints Task Force

PAWTUCKET, RI - As part of her efforts to build healthy communities and a vibrant economy, Governor Gina M. Raimondo Tuesday signed an Executive Order establishing the Governor's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. The Task Force will submit an action plan by November of this year that includes clear goals, objectives, and metrics to combat the addiction and overdose crisis.  
"Addiction and opioid abuse are public health priorities that affect our families, communities, and economy, and it's time for a statewide strategy to address them," said Raimondo. "We are committed to working collaboratively with our dedicated partners across the state to tackle this issue and keep our families and communities safe. We must come together to make sure everyone has the opportunity to make it in Rhode Island."
Last year in Rhode Island, 239 people died of accidental drug overdose, and 94 people have already died this year, according to provisional data. Despite promising efforts by state and community partners to combat opioid abuse, Rhode Island has seen slow but steady increases in accidental drug overdose deaths, which rose three percent in the last year.
Raimondo appointed Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott and Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals Director Maria Montanaro as co-chairs of the task force, pointing to the need for additional collaboration between the state agencies to address this public health crisis. The task force will develop an action plan to address Rhode Island's overdose crisis and hold monthly public meetings.
"This problem is very real and, as the numbers indicate, it is not going away," said Alexander-Scott. "I am thankful to Governor Raimondo for putting together this task force, and I look forward to working as co-chair to address the disease of addiction, reduce overdose deaths, and keep more Rhode Islanders safe and healthy."
"Governor Raimondo has shown great vision and leadership in creating an Executive Order asking committed stakeholders to serve on this task force and create an action plan to combat this crisis," said Montanaro. "I am pleased to serve as co-chair and am confident that working together we will deliver a robust and highly responsive plan." 
"Lifelong access to recovery support for the disease of addiction is critical-just as it is for other chronic, long-term illnesses," said Tom Joyce, Associate Director of Recovery Support Services for the Providence Center and Anchor Recovery Community Centers. "Recovery is possible, and Rhode Island has a uniquely strong recovery community. We look forward to collaborating with the Governor's new task force to address our addiction and overdose crisis."
A team of public health experts at Brown University, the Miriam Hospital and Johns Hopkins University has received funding from CVS Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island to advise the task force and assist in developing recommendations.
A current list of task force members follows.
Name    Affiliation
Thomas Davis    CVS 
Representative David Bennett    House of Representatives 
Senator Joshua Miller    Senate 
Taino Palermo    Commission on Health Equity and Advocacy 
Susan Jacobsen, Director Health Equity Initiatives, Thundermist    Health Equity Zones Initiative 
Dr. Gary Bubly    Emergency Department 
Jane Hayward    Health Center Association 
Dr. Matthew Collins     BCBS 
James McDonald    RI Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline 
Peter Ragosta    RI Board of Pharmacy
Donna Policastro    RI Nurses Association 
Dr. Robert Bartro    RI Dental Association 
Dr. Peter Karczmar    RI Medical Society 
Mike Rizzi, CODAC    Harm Reduction Representative
Nancy DiNuccio    Substance Abuse Prevention Association 
Ariel Engleman    Drug Overdose, Prevention and Rescue Coalition 
David Spencer    Drug and Alcohol Treatment Association 
Michelle McKenzie    RICARES
Tommy Joyce, The Providence Center    Recovery Coach Representative
Dr. Jef Bratberg, URI, Pharmacy Practice    Academia/Public Health Researcher
Brian Sullivan    Police Chiefs Association
Dr. Kathleen Hittner    OHIC
Dr. Deidre Gifford    Medicaid 
Maria Montanaro, MSW    BHDDH
Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD    DOH
Dr. Ken Wagner    RIDE
Jamia McDonald     EOHHS Chief Strategy for DCYF
Jason Rhodes    DOH Emergency Management Services 
Ed D'Arezzo    DOH Medical Examiner Office 
A.T. Wall    DOC
Colonel Steven O'Donnell    RISP
Peter Kilmartin    Attorney General 
(release from Governor's Office)