Dayton mayor offers model solution after city cuts opioid overdose deaths in half

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As opioid addiction and related deaths continue to grip this nation, the leader of one Ohio city is looking to spread an initiative that has reduced accidental opioid overdose deaths.

In 2017, the metropolitan city of Dayton had one of the highest overdose rates in the nation. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley says she was able to change that by taking a new approach.

“The community really rallied together and we created what we call the 'Community Overdose Action Team or the COAT,” Whaley said.

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The initiative COAT or Community Overdose Action Team is a collaboration of community impact groups — agencies ranging from health departments to law enforcement — that connect with the goal of reducing opioid deaths in the city of Dayton.

“We actually go back the next day with police and fire and say 'Hey, do you want help?' and say, 'Hey, let’s talk about it,'" Whaley said.

The mayor says a combination of COAT and former Governor John Kasich’s decision to expand Medicaid in 2015 has granted hundreds of thousands of Ohioans unprecedented access to addiction and mental health services.

“In 2018, we cut those accidental overdose deaths in half, which has elicited some national news and we’re pleased with that," Whaley said.

As Franklin County continues to see accidental overdose deaths rise year to year, Whaley says what is being done just east of the capital city can be done anywhere.

“Let's use the tools that will really be successful," she said. "Let’s learn more about this disease and let's work it so we can really bring families and communities together.”