Last week, as two towns in Lower Bucks held public meetings addressing the opioid epidemic, Bucks County Commissioners asked the Department of Health and Human Services what next steps they can take to combat the problems.
“I certainly agree that education and awareness is a big part of the battle,” said Commissioner Robert Loughrey. “What we’re wrestling with is … we’ve made people aware, what is the ‘Now what?’ we need to be focusing on to impact this?”
The question came after Commissioner Chairman Charles Martin and Bucks District Attorney Matt Weintraub weighed the option of creating an overarching organization to coordinate the many meetings and events hosted across the county.
This week, the Bucks County Association of Township Officials held a symposium in Middletown on Monday, while an overdose town hall took place in Langhorne on Wednesday.
“It’s wonderful to have 17 groups going off and doing 17 things, but is there any overall coordination taking place that says, ‘This is the key group?’ ” asked Martin.
Weintraub said the there isn’t — and that it might work better that way.
“I find that the bigger these tasks forces are the less effective they become, and sometimes the leaner and meaner, the more you can accomplish,” he said.
Another advantage to holding multiple meetings in different towns, even if they cover the same topic, is it allows the message to be heard by different audiences each time.
“If we have just one meeting, it recedes into people’s memory,” he said. “It’s something we have to stay on top of.”
Weintraub also noted that the commissioners would have his full support and participation if they did choose to create an umbrella organization.
The conversation led Loughrey to ask for possible “action items” the commissioners could take, based on information officials gather at these meetings.
On a countywide basis, the Drug and Alcohol Commission, part of the Human Services division of the county, acts as a “resource repository” for upcoming events and other data.
“‘I am happy to put together, as we have in the past, a list of all we’ve done in terms of intervention, prevention and treatment,” said Jonathan Rubin, director of Human Services.
“I can get that to you, and we can continue the conversation.”