November 9, 2017
Nearly 300 attendees gathered for the 2017 Missouri Regional Opioid Summit – Kansas City Region at the Kansas City Regional Police Academy on Thursday.
The event was the result of a strong collaboration with Jackson County, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, City of Kansas City, Missouri and the KC Regional Opioid Task Force.
The Opioid Summit tackled the epidemic from a collaborative, multi-pronged approach, with a focus on awareness, prevention and law enforcement challenges.
Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr.; Bridgette Casey, Director of the Jackson County Health Department; and Randall Williams, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services opened the summit.
“We look forward to continue doing our part to solve a problem of this magnitude, but achieving that goal requires a team of dedicated stakeholders. This summit is key to ensuring we all have the tools needed to combat this epidemic together.” said White.
Jackson County joined the fight against opioid abuse late last year by creating a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program in partnership with St. Louis County.
Casey added, “We are working to create a safe, model community free from addiction. Why? Because addiction knows no boundaries - geographic, socio-economic, or otherwise.”
Special Agent Douglas Dorley, Public Information Officer of the Drug Enforcement Administration, St. Louis Division spoke of the State of the State for Law Enforcement. “We cannot arrest our way out of this. Education and prevention are key in the strategy,” said Dorley.
Lou Steele shared his family’s personal story with addiction and his hopes for the future of a recovery community in Kansas City. “We thought that we must have failed as parents because we have a daughter addicted to drugs,” said Steele.
Just a few semesters into college, Steele’s daughter became addicted to heroin. She flunked out of school, started stealing from family and wouldn’t get help. “The ultimate fear is the fear that today she will die,” said Steele. Eventually Elizabeth did get help and today she is the director of a drug rehab center in California.
After Steele spoke, a panel of experts discussed ways to reach the goal of creating a safe, model community free from addiction. The experts included Alan Flory, President & CEO of ReDiscover Mental Health; Chris Hankins, Justice for Jake; Susan Whitemore, President and CEO of First Call; Judge Anne LaBella, City of Kansas City, Missouri Drug Court; Darrin D’Agostino, Dean of Medicine, Kansas City University School of Medicine and Bioethics and Sergeant Chris Cesena of Kansas City, Missouri Police Department. Teesha Miller, Director of Jackson County’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program served as the moderator.
The summit is just the beginning of many conversations to end this opioid abuse epidemic in Jackson County.