News

York County adds executive director for group fighting opioid crisis

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Dec 28, 2016 2:27 PM
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Photo by Ben Allen/WITF

Dr. Matt Howie, the new executive director for the York Regional Opiate Collaborative (formerly the York County Heroin Task Force).

(York) -- A midstate county is redoubling its efforts to fight the heroin epidemic - with a $300,000 investment.

York County's Heroin Task Force is changing its name to the York Regional Opiate Collaborative - and adding an executive director.

Nonprofits and an anonymous donor are contributing $100,000 a year for 3 years, to fund the work of the York Regional Opiate Collaborative.

Some of the money will be used to bring on Dr. Matthew Howie as a part-time executive director.

He says he'll work with groups around York to determine what resources are working, where more are needed, and other options for people who want help.

He says data is going to drive his work.

"The only way to be able to effectively communicate what those needs are is to gather that data, and then be able to reflect that back to the folks who make those decisions and say gosh we need more of this or actually we really just need connections between these entities and coordinated efforts between these groups."

Howie says the growing prevalence of the drug fentanyl - which is often cut with heroin and can easily kill - brings more urgency to his work.

"When this is used as one of the materials in there, one of the drugs that's in there, the risk is that much higher. It adds a sense of urgency, I don't know if it really changes a whole lot beyond that," he says.

Dr. Howie - who already works as York City's Medical Director - will also become the public health advisor for the county.

The York County Community Foundation's Memorial Health Fund, WellSpan Health, York County Bar Association, and an anonymous donor are funding the collaborative's expansion.

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