MCT van

Health professionals and law enforcement are working together to save lives in Calvert County.

Crisis teams, including one in Calvert County, work to save lives every day through a concerted effort with other local agencies and programs.

Recently, Calvert County Health Officer Dr. Laurence Polsky updated the county commissioners — convened as the local board of health — on a variety of issues under the purview of his office. While Polsky’s most recent reports have dealt with Calvert’s response to COVID-19, he reminded the board and the citizens watching the livestream of the meeting that the health department has long been busy tackling other issues.

One area where progress is being made is the struggle to diminish Calvert’s number of opioid overdose deaths. Polsky reported that both statewide and nationally overdose deaths increased in 2020. In Maryland, overdose fatalities went up about 18%.

“Despite the stresses of 2020, Calvert was one of only four counties [in Maryland] with a decrease in overdose deaths,” Polsky reported.

The health officer noted Calvert leads the state in the percentage of decrease in opioid fatalities — nearly a 26% decline from 2017 to 2020.

“The 2020 rate is being maintained,” Polsky added. “Currently if you take a look, per capita, overdose deaths are 40% lower in Calvert County than they are statewide.”

Polsky said the efforts of a variety of agencies are helping in “moving us forward.”

One of the fulcrums in pushing the overdose numbers downward is also impacting other areas of health care.

Polsky touted Calvert’s Mobile Crisis Team for its work in saving lives.

“It’s a newer program we have at the health department,” he said. “This has been building over the past two years.”

“Unfortunately, it’s one of the best kept secrets,” Dr. Drew Fuller, director of the Mobile Crisis Team stated last year during a webinar cosponsored by the health department.

“The team responds along with emergency medical services, along with the sheriff’s office and state police to a overdose,” Polsky explained. “They arrive on the scene. As long as that person is medically stable, then our team takes over so the EMTs, once they know things are stable, can move on.”

Polsky continued, “One of the important things to drive home is prior to our team being out there, the EMS team then needed to transport that person to the hospital. That was more time that the ambulance crew was taken away. That was more paperwork involved. That ambulance crew is freed up now, if someone has a heart attack or a stroke. Everybody in the community benefits from these types of collective efforts.”

Earlier this year, Calvert County Behavioral Health launched Calvert Crisis Response, which was developed with the assistance of the Calvert sheriff’s office. Emergency behavioral health emergencies prompt the comprehensive mobile crisis team to intervene and de-escalate tense situations. This crew includes a medical provider, a therapist and a peer recovery specialist.

“Working in tandem with local law enforcement on these calls allow each of our agencies to focus on what we do best,” stated Denis Dickerson, Calvert Crisis Response’s clinical supervisor stated when that program was launched.

According to Cpl. Stephen Moran of the sheriff’s office’s special operations team, the mobile crisis team “responded to an incident in Dunkirk per my request for an adult female having a schizophrenic episode.” Moran stated team members were able to convince the woman to ride in the team’s van to a hospital for an evaluation.

According to the deputy, the woman told police she did not want to go. However, the team “was able to work through her delusions and convince her that an evaluation was in everybody’s best interest,” Moran stated.

Anyone in urgent need of substance use or mental health treatment may call the dedicated hotline at 1-877-467-5628. For more information on the services available in Calvert, go to www.CCBHCrisisResponse.org.

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