(Toms River) – Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) Chief of Administrative Services, Kimberly Reilly, recently made a trip to the state capital to provide key testimony for a new bill that would establish a Drug Overdose Fatality Review Program in each county in New Jersey.
The ultimate goal of the Overdose Fatality Review Program (OFRP) is to find the common denominator for overdose deaths at the local level. Ms. Reilly has been at the helm of OFRP since 2016 and in just a few short years the program has developed a new and unique tool that’s getting plenty of attention.
“The Ocean County Health Department is very proud of the work Ms. Reilly and her team have accomplished with this trailblazing initiative and speaking to the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee demonstrates just how crucial this program can be for other counties,” says Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health.
The Overdose Fatality Review Program has been dubbed a Social Autopsy, and for good reason, because it examines the lives of those who have overdosed and to identify common trends and pinpoint systemic issues. With this vital information, the ultimate goal is to save future lives from overdose.
In her testimony, Ms. Reilly stressed the importance of information sharing amongst agencies. This cooperation is a must in order to identify where the gaps, barriers and systemic cracks are indentified at the local level with the hope to find sustainable solutions.
Daniel E. Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator explains, “Ms. Reilly helped build the successful OFRP infrastructure with the assistance of Ocean County community partners along with studying the New York City and Maryland models for the fatality review process. Now other states are already requesting her assistance to start up their own program.”
“It’s very important to keep the Social Autopsy a county driven and local process to ensure the information and data speaks to the needs of our communities,” says Ms. Reilly. “Here in Ocean County, we’ve been fortunate to have established and formalized a process that is working.”
Regenye added, “This past April, the Ocean County Overdose Fatality Review was chosen as a “Model Practice” by the National Association of County and City Health Officials. We are very pleased the program is getting the attention it merits and the Ocean County Overdose Fatality Review team looks forward to sharing all the information and knowledge they’ve gained and hope it leads to the same success in future county programs.”
To learn more about the Ocean County Overdose Fatality Review Program, please visit the OCHD website at www.ochd.org or follow us on Twitter@OCpublichealth or follow us on Facebook. Also, please check out our new website at www.phu2.org, to access and learn more about our Public Health is You Too! campaign to help equip you to take simple steps to improve your health.