June 23, 2016

Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap counties working together to tackle opioid abuse

PORT ANGELES –– Olympic Community of Health and behavioral health organizations in Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties are working toward a regional plan to address opioid abuse.

“There are a number of people trying to figure out how the three counties can work together,” said Dr. Christopher Frank, Clallam County public health officer. 

“The Olympic Community of Health is looking for ideas.”

Frank said the three-county opioid response plan is still in its early stages. 

He sees it as something that could supplement Clallam County's efforts into decreasing opioid abuse and the number of overdoses.

“Anything that came out of this would be value added and not distract from us responding in our own way,” he said.

Clallam County's goals call for improving prescribing practices, improving opioid addiction treatment by expanding access to medication, preventing deaths from overdose by expanding access to naloxone and using data to monitor the county's response.

The county's overdose death rate was 29.0 per 100,000 people in 2013, while the state rate was 14.8 per 100,000, according to U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer in February.

Jefferson County's overdose death rate is lower than Clallam County's but higher than the state average, according to the county public health department.

In both North Olympic Peninsula counties, the death rate from opioids is higher than the state's. Across Washington, the rate was 8.4 lost per 100,000 in population, according to figures reported in 2015.

Dr. Jeanette Stehr-Green, while she served as Clallam County's interim health officer, said in 2015 that during 2012-14, opioid-related hospitalizations numbered 559 in Clallam County and 131 in Jefferson County.

Three-county plan 

Frank said officials are setting up preliminary discussions about the three-county plan.

The recently formed Salish Behavioral Health Organization will apply for funding through Olympic Community of Health, he said.

Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties are involved because there are a number of organizations already working together in the three-county region, he said.

“We're already collaborators on quite a few things,” Frank said.

The Olympic Community of Health received official state designation Dec. 22 and includes hospitals in Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties.

The group is one of nine Accountable Community of Health systems in the state, formed as part of Gov. Jay Inslee's proposed Healthier Washington initiative.

While the hospitals in the community of health remain independent, they work together under one umbrella to achieve jointly defined goals.


Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com

By:  Jesse Major
Source: Peninsula Daily News