Council Gets Update on Use of Opioid Settlement Funds

By Adam Swift

City leaders are taking a long-term look at how best to use opioid settlement money received by the city, while also taking more immediate steps to address the opioid crisis.

Monday night, Revere Public Health Director Lauren Buck and Nicole Palermo and CarrieAnn Salemme from the city’s SUDHI (Substance Use Disorder and Homelessness Initiatives) Office appeared before the city council to discuss the use of the opioid settlement funding. The money is the result of litigation a number of states brought against major opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The state gets 60 percent of the settlement amount, while the individual communities split the remaining money to help address the opioid crisis.

Revere is slated to receive a total of about $2.2 million over the course of 17 years.

The funding is appropriated by the city council each year, according to Buck.

In FY24, the city is using $88,000 for salaries and benefits, and another $10,000 for miscellaneous services. Buck noted that the salaries and benefits expenditure will be a one-time only expense. The services will include money for outreach surveys, emergency services, and $6,500 for Naloxone boxes in overdose hotspots throughout the city.

Overall, the opioid abatement funding can be used for a variety of areas, including opioid use disorder treatment, support for people in treatment and recovery, harm reduction, supporting pregnant people or families (including infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome), and prevention of the misuse of opioids and the implementation of preventative strategies.

“The goal is to spend this money effectively, but also with a lot of forethought,” said Buck.

The public health and SUDHI offices are part of a larger opioid abatement working group that includes community stakeholders and people impacted by the community. That group is looking at creating a long-term spending plan for the settlement money, Buck said.

“We make the decisions of where the money goes, but we also bring a multitude of different viewpoints based on areas of expertise,” said Palermo. “It is important to have people with lived experience in the decision making.”

Salemme addressed the thinking and logistics behind placing the Naloxone boxes, outdoor cabinets that can hold up to 12 boxes of  Naloxone, throughout the city.

She said the easily identifiable boxes will be placed in overdose hotspots in Revere. Currently, there are three in place and they are checked weekly to see if they need to be restocked. In addition, the SUDHI office and public health department are also looking to distribute smaller Naloxone emergency kits to local businesses, Salemme said.

Councillor-at-Large Marc Silvestri said he was encouraged by the use of the Naloxone boxes, but said he was disappointed to see some of the opioid settlement funding being used for salaries and benefits.

“This hits home for me,” said Silvestri. “I’ve had so many friends struggle and lose their lives in these years. It’s very important to me that these allocated funds are used in the proper ways.”

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