The Rushford Meriden Opioid Referral for Recovery team recently had a nice surprise when they were recognized by the Meriden Police Department for their contributions to service and the community as part of a partnership that has continued to grow. grow and strengthen.
“Through the Meriden Healthy Youth Coalition’s MORR and MERR (Meriden Early Diversion, Referral, and Retention) programs, as well as the Meriden Police Department’s CIT program, Rushford has been a valuable partner in providing services and support to people in our community struggling with addiction and mental health, and we look forward to expanding these programs and our partnership to better serve the community,” the Meriden Police Department said in a recent Facebook post.
“Since our initial partnership between the City of Meriden Health Department and Rushford to address the opioid crisis through the development of the Meriden Opioid Referral for Recovery (MORR) project, we have realized that this public/private partnership has offered hope and recovery to many who suffer from addiction,” said Deputy Chief Jerry Scully of the Meriden Police Department. “We have seen people who have had repeated opioid overdoses get the treatment they need, often with the clinician visiting them directly at the local hospital. Getting individuals into treatment allows officers to focus on other police business. This program gives officers the mechanism to make a difference not only in the addict’s life, but often in the life of their family as well.
March was National Social Worker Month and the City of Meriden and Meriden Police Department featured the team, including Sheri Hatfield, LMSW and MERR Clinician; Ciara Perez, LCSW, Mobile Crisis Clinician; John Potter, LCSW and MORR/MERR Program Manager; and Jessica Matyka, LCSW, Director of Crisis and Community Programs at Rushford, with letters of appreciation for working closely with the police department and being instrumental in the success of the partnership.
Matyka said it was a pleasant surprise to receive the certificates. “We thought it was a regular meeting, but then they got the awards for us,” she said. She said the partnership has evolved over the past four or five years into a strong community partnership.
“We are able to partner with the police when they receive behavioral health calls, either by arriving on the scene afterwards or by using a co-responder model to be sent directly with the officer,” he said. she declared. “We have seen better outcomes and have been able to connect individuals to the care and treatment they need.”
Detective Lt. George Clements of the Meriden Police Department said the partnership was important. “The police department is able to leverage clinical expertise and skills to deliver broader and more robust services to the public,” he said.
The Meriden Opioid Referral for Recovery (MORR) program is funded by a four-year, $2 million federal grant from the Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) and provides first responders Narcan to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
Deputy Chief Scully said that in 2020, the partnership led to additional collaboration on the Meriden Early Diversion, Referral, and Retention (MERR) program. MERR is a diversion program that gives officers an additional resource to use when an arrest can be avoided, and a qualified person would be better placed to receive intensive mental health treatment and/or crisis intervention. from the Rushford clinical team. Officers make the initial referral and Rushford clinicians follow up with the person in crisis and provide additional mental health services.
The program expanded again in 2021, when Rushford clinicians began working part-time at Meriden Police Department offices. Clinicians accompany officers and actively assist homeless people, people in mental health crisis and people struggling with addiction. Rushford provided officers with homeless care kits that included a blanket, hat, socks, hand warmers and other toiletries. Officers were able to distribute them on some of the bitterest nights.
“Officers have embraced this partnership, built on trust and mutual respect, and routinely reach out to Rushford clinicians even when not working outside the police department to respond and assist those in crisis,” the chief said. Deputy Scully. “This collaborative outreach has bridged the gap between people suffering from addiction and/or mental health crises by reducing the fear that they may be arrested when seeking much-needed help.”