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Jacksonville Councilman Seeks Emergency Funding To Treat Opioid Addiction

City of Jacksonville

Jacksonville City Council will soon consider funding a six-month pilot program to help treat opioid addiction with nearly $1.5 million city dollars. Councilman Bill Gulliford is introducing the bill Tuesday.

The proposed pilot intervention program was developed by Dr. Raymond Pomm, medical director of Gateway Community Services and River Region Human Services, both addiction treatment centers.

The six-month pilot would start intervention in the emergency room with trained peer specialists who can educate and coordinate recovery, detox and follow-up services.

“Right now what happens when an (overdosed) individual goes into the emergency department they’re stabilized once they’re revived and then they’re discharged,” said Pomm last month on First Coast Connect.

Gulliford called the current system “the classic definition of stupid.”

“One woman at Memorial (Hospital) I understand showed up four times in one day,” Gulliford said.

Although it's normally a six-week process to pass a city bill, he is asking for emergency approval by the end of the month.

“Because people are dying,” Gulliford said. “We don’t seem to be stopping the trend. For the first three months of this year compared to the same last year it’s up 51 percent in overdose deaths.”

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue officials say they’re responding to overdoses every few hours, many from Fentanyl and heroin.

Through the pilot patients would also be tested for Fentanylto better track its use in the community.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride. 

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.