Riverside Health officials awarded $7.1 million grant to improve surveillance of opioid-related overdoses

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RIVERSIDE – A $7.1 million federal grant awarded to Riverside University Health System Public Health will help local officials improve tracking of opioid-related overdoses and better allocate resources.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently awarded the organization the 3-year grant to enhance surveillance of overdose morbidity and mortality in Riverside County. Officials will use data to guide overdose prevention efforts to target people who have experienced adverse childhood and community experiences, Kim Saruwatari, director of Public Health, said.

“The funding will help Public Health gather critical information that will help prevent tragedies and the senseless loss of life caused by opioids,” Saruwatari said. “We already know this epidemic strikes everywhere, but we will now be better able to determine where to target precious resources.”

Data will be used to determine the frequency of adverse childhood experiences and risks on overdose incidences in Riverside County and create more responsive and collaborative prevention efforts to address the upstream causes of substance use disorders and overdose.

In 2018, there were 142 opioid-related deaths in Riverside County, compared to 77 deaths in 2007. There were 431 drug-related deaths in Riverside County during 2018, compared to 214 deaths in 2007.

The grant, nearly $2.4 million a year for three years, will fund the creation of a monthly overdose death review team, develop rapid response to overdose outbreaks, and enhance analysis and dissemination of hospital emergency department and 911 ambulance response.

County Public Health is partnering with Riverside EMS Agency, Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office, RUHS-Behavioral Health and Inland Empire Health Plan.

Submitted by Riverside University Health System.