Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,300,000)
Overdoses have caused nearly a million fatalities in the United States since 1999 and fatal substance overdoses throughout Lackawanna County have increased in 2020 and 2021 after seeing a significant decrease in 2019, despite expansive efforts to combat substance use disorder within the county. In response to this public health crisis, Lackawanna County has implemented several innovative initiatives to address the opioid epidemic and reduce overdose deaths, including the Lackawanna County District Attorney Office (LCDAO) led Lackawanna County Overdose Fatality Review (OFR) team.
The Lackawanna County OFR team is a multidisciplinary group that conducts extensive case reviews and examines local overdose fatality data to find the root causes of addiction, understand the factors that ultimately led to an overdose, identify gaps in treatment and missed opportunities for intervention, and generate data-driven recommendations to decrease overdose fatalities throughout the county. The outcomes of this proposed grant project will serve the residents of Lackawanna County to reduce the amount of both fatal and non-fatal overdoses through a focus on program implementation and improvement. The funding will support the OFR’s ability to conduct evaluations of the next of kin interview process, provide mentorship, guidance and technical support to developing OFR teams, conduct an external evaluation of Lackawanna County OFR Team, establish an awareness and education campaign, and implement recommendations generated by the Lackawanna County OFR team.
The Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office will engage in a subgrant with the University of Pittsburgh Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) to support the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office as a research and evaluation partner. PERU will provide support related to problem analysis, evaluations, assessment of implementation, and strategic planning of interventions.
Specifically, all funds requested by the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office will be allocated to the category of real-time data collection. All goals and objectives of the proposed program will be related to the implementation of recommendations generated by and improvement of the established county OFR team. Additionally, the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office is seeking priority consideration for category 1A (discussed on pages 10-11 of proposal narrative). Priority consideration is also being sought based on the research partnership with the University of Pittsburgh PERU. The University of Pittsburgh PERU has a long track record of highly qualified staff, program management, technical support, and a previous relationship working with both the Bureau of Justice Assistance as well as the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office.