Federal, state and local advocates talk opiate crisis in Fort Wayne

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Federal and state leaders are trying to stay connected to those on the ground in communities as the opiate crisis continues.

“What often seems to be a gap between people in policy making positions and those on the ground– we’re not going to let that happen,” Executive Director of Indiana’s drug prevention, treatment and enforcement group Jim McClelland said.

“It’s encouraging that that’s the priority,” The Bowen Center’s Director of Addiction Recovery Services, Megan Fisher, said.

Something that we don’t see every day in 2017–bipartisanship. Policies are coming out of Washington and Indianapolis with support on both sides of the aisle expanding treatment and prevention in the midst of the opiate epidemic.

On Thursday, local advocates gathered with representatives from Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly’s office and Republican Governor Eric Holcomb’s office in Fort Wayne.

“It’s an incredibly complex problem,” McClelland said.

It’s because of this complexity people on Thursday’s panel hosted by IPFW’s UC2 Program agreed you have to lay out a list of priorities to tackle. High on everyone’s list– treatment and prevention.

“A lot of funding like we talked about today is going in the direction of addressing the opiate epidemic,” Fisher said. “It’s actually had a huge impact on our decision to go forward with the [opiate treatment program].”

The Bowen Center has recently been directly impacted by recent policy. In July, Governor Holcomb announced five new treatment centers will open up across the state, and for the first time ever medicaid will pay for treatment.

That includes the Bowen Center. It will open another facility in Allen County early next year.

“So our capacity for that is hopefully another 1,000 clients we can serve through medicated assisted treatment,” Fisher said.