Lenoir, NC – The Caldwell County Board of Commissioners recently approved using a portion of the North Carolina Opioid Settlement to expand Caldwell County’s R.E.S.T.A.R.T. Program and advance the staff’s vital role in curbing the opioid epidemic in our area.
“R.E.S.T.A.R.T. is an acronym for Recognize, Educate, Stabilize, Transform, Accelerate, Rehabilitate and Trust, and exemplifies the foundations on which the program was established,” Caldwell County EMS Chief Jonathan Cook. “The program is currently funded by a two-year grant from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and will now be extended for many years thanks to the county commissioner’s commitment to ensuring the work continues.”
Through the expansion approved by the commissioners, Caldwell County’s opioid response program will now include a multi-faceted approach, including personnel and experience from emergency services, public health, education, and social services. The goal is to meaningfully engage members of the public who have experienced overdose, follow up with patients and families who have experienced an overdose within hours after the incident, and then link the patient with appropriate care ranging from harm reduction services to treatment to recovery supports. Because each case is unique, staff will deploy a broad spectrum of experience and expertise to provide individualized support to cater to the needs of the individual.
The expansion of services comes as the number of overdoses continues to rise. This year, Caldwell County EMS has responded to 250 overdoses. To help address the number of overdoses, R.E.S.T.A.R.T. has distributed 447 units of Narcan and referred 40 individuals to detox/rehabilitation facilities.
This program, which started in 2021 through a collaboration between Caldwell County Emergency Services’ EMS Division, and the Caldwell County Health Department, offers a great opportunity to build relationships with those who use drugs in our community and create connections to offer a variety of education, health, and social services.
“The key point often missed by those who have not had the unfortunate experience of dealing with the challenges faced by those suffering from mental, behavioral and substance abuse issues is that it impacts more than just the individual. These cases impact families, children, communities, the healthcare system, businesses and more,” says Emergency Services Director Dino DiBernardi. “If we are able to make a meaningful impact in the lives of these community members, and break the cycle of substance abuse, create access to beneficial treatment, healthcare and educational programs, and offer services to assist in the re-entry to the workforce, we can see – not only – a reduction in death and crime, but also an increase in the quality of life for the community as a whole.”
Want to learn more about the R.E.S.T.A.R.T. Program, Caldwell County’s portion of the North Carolina Opioid Settlement or any of the departments within Caldwell County Government? Visit www.caldwellcountync.org.