SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - It was the first meeting of it’s kind for the Department of Justice’s Southern District of Georgia.
U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine called together heads of law enforcement from the federal, state and local levels, along with leaders in medicine. They talked about the opioid epidemic in the Southern District’s 43 counties.
Outside of the Atlanta area, Chatham and Richmond counties hold the second and third highest totals of opioid misuse, according to Christine.
“It’s very, very impactful to have the professionals from law enforcement, the medical community, state prosecutors, federal prosecutors, coroners, medical examiners, to get in one room to discuss best practices and also commit in front of one another to a continuing dialogue," Christine said.
He pointed out feedback specifically from the medical representatives at the roundtable discussion, about the justice system’s approach to cracking down on those doling out opioids illegally.
“They’re very supportive of our work in this district, and we are about the most productive district around in getting after pill mills and diversions of opioids inappropriately," Christine said.
One thing Christine says he learned from the medical professionals was because of that crackdown, many legitimate prescribers are hesitant to prescribe, leading to opioid users to go elsewhere for their pills.
“There’s a much bigger focus on providing non-opioid pain treatments both in the hospital and at home, so we’re doing that. There’s emphasis on trying to get providers to help patients who have chronic opioid use disorder get treatment to get off opioids,” said Dr. Jeff Kenney with St. Joseph’s/Candler.
In addition to committing to more regular meetings, the group also learned about an opportunity for first responder training for opioid calls next month that’s being funded by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.