Greg interviews Nan Whaley, the Mayor of the City of Dayton, Ohio. Out of the top 10 cities in the U.S. marred by the opioid epidemic, three are in Ohio and one of the top ones is Dayton. Since her election, Mayor Whaley has worked to aggressively combat the crisis sweeping the state and affecting her community.
Greg asks Mayor Whaley about the benefits that come from declaring the opioid epidemic a state of emergency. Mayor Whaley explains that Dayton was one of the first cities to declare the opioid epidemic a state of emergency, which allowed them to have access to resources that they wouldn’t normally have. “In 2014 for example, we wanted to make sure that we were able to reach those afflicted with this issue and we saw in Scott County, Indiana that needles were being used so often that a Hepatitis C outbreak had [occurred] – and that was terrifying to us. When we saw the number of deaths… we wanted to see how we could get to those addicted, so the declaration of emergency allowed us to do what we call harm reduction. We now have three sites across the city where folks that are afflicted with this disorder can go and receive clean needles and transfer their old ones. So it also helps keep dirty needles off of our streets, which is also an issue. Just this year, we have dispensed 100,000 needles in the city of Dayton – most from the same people. Really, this is a place for people to feel trust, and that’s an opportunity for us to open the door so we have a relationship where if someone feels they have nowhere else to turn that they have this place. That way, when they’re ready for treatment, we can get them into treatment very quickly. Further, declaring an emergency helps you with administration of Narcan for cities, for our police to administer Narcan, which is a life-saving drug… Finally, the first step in admitting you have a problem is saying you have a problem. So just the declaration of emergency is really important to take a real good look at what is happening in your community or state so you can then marshal the resources that are needed to deal with it.”
Listen to the podcast to discover how the City of Dayton has also filed a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical companies responsible for the spread of opiates throughout the community.