$150,000 grant will help Bristol, Wheeler Center in opioid fight

Published on Thursday, 13 December 2018 21:24


BRISTOL - The city has received a $150,000 grant from the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to allow it to directly address the opioid crisis.

“This is a huge win for Bristol, especially considering that we just started the [Opioid] Task Force,” said Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu on Thursday. “Despite only being in existence for less than a year, the Opioid Task Force has been working hard to raise awareness of this critical issue in our community. We’re grateful to the state of Connecticut for their support, and we look forward to working with Wheeler Clinic to provide this outreach and support for our residents dealing with crisis situations in their homes and families. Lack of access to recovery has been a number one priority of the Task Force, and I am so happy to see us get an early win of this, and be able to help as many Bristol families as possible.”

Susan Walkama, president and CEO of Wheeler Clinic, echoed the mayor’s sentiments about the strong relationship between Wheeler and the city.

“How Can We Help?” recovery support services will be provided by Wheeler Clinic to Bristol residents starting next month and running through Sept. 29, 2020.

“We know that effective supports in the community make a tremendous difference for a person living with an addiction,” she said. “We’ve been a partner with the city in many of our community outreach efforts, and we are pleased to be able to offer our recovery coaches to individuals in recovery in their own homes.”

Marco Palmeri, director of the Bristol-Burlington Health District, will be the project leadert.

Zoppo-Sassu said Palmeri has played an important part in this cooperative grant process and his office will supervise the recovery peer coach, compile statistics and prepare reports for the state.

“2019 can be the beginning of an entirely new life for some Bristol residents who are able to take advantage of this program,” Palmeri said. “We’re very lucky to have this opportunity to reach more people with this intensive model.”

Zoppo-Sassu began the Opioid Task Force last year, responding a growing number of overdoses in the city as well as other factors.

“What’s dynamic about this group is the different types of people who have come together to have this important community conversation,” said Councilor Mary Fortier, the City Council liaison to the Opioid Task Force. “The group is comprised of city officials from police, the Board of Education, Youth and Community Services, the Bristol–Burlington Health District, parents and family members affected by addiction, a variety of health care and social service providers, and individuals in recovery. By having all these people at the table, we are going to be able to make a very positive impact.”

The Opioid Task Force’s meetings are open to the public. The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the first floor meeting room of City Hall at 111 N. Main St.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or bjohnson@bristolpress.com.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Thursday, 13 December 2018 21:24. Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2018 21:27.