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Lewis and Clark County Commission approves efforts to combat opioids

Posted at 10:06 AM, Jun 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-12 12:06:17-04

HELENA – A five-member team from Lewis and Clark County is preparing to head to Washington, D.C. to take part in a national initiative to expand opioid addiction treatment in jails.

Lewis and Clark County is one of 15 counties that will participate in the “Planning Initiative to Build Bridges between Jail and Community-Based Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder.”

On Tuesday, the Lewis and Clark Commission accepted the grant and expressed their support of taking part in the initiative.

The five-person team will be comprised of: Commissioner Andy Hunthausen; Captain Alan Hughes of the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office; Ben McGaugh, a Behavioral Health Program Supervisor at PureView Health Center; Samantha Pierson-Hartwig, an RN at the Lewis and Clark County Detention Center; and Kellie McBride, the Director of Criminal Justice Services with Lewis and Clark County.

“It is a big honor to receive this bridge grant,” said McBride. “It’s bridging treatment between the jail and the communities so that we can help keep the community safe while we address opioid disorders.”

The team will learn from experts to help overcome barriers to providing opioid treatment, such as creating treatment guidelines and educating jail staff.

A consultant will travel to Helena in July to tour the jail and meet with county staff before the team travels to D.C. in August.

“This is an opportunity for Lewis and Clark County to address something that is broken and figure out together as a team across systems what will work best to fix this and ultimately this means we get to keep our community safe,” McBride said.

Expenses for the initiative are provided through a grant from the Institute for Intergovernmental Research on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance and in partnership with Arnold Ventures.

Lewis and Clark County is the smallest jurisdiction to participate in the planning initiative, with Cook County Jail in Chicago being the largest.

-Reported by John Riley/MTN News