8/27/20 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Bright Spot - Overdose Prevention Sites

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Good morning, IDHS Staff:

As we continue to follow guidance from Governor JB Pritzker around social distancing and other health and safety protocols to fight COVID-19, our staff continue to work hard to provide critical services to Illinois residents and move new initiatives forward. Today, I'd like to highlight one important effort led by the Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery (SUPR).

On Monday, SUPR announced the release of the Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) Community Engagement Project Report, and next steps for Opioid OPS on Chicago's West Side neighborhood. The report found that 86% of Chicago's West Side community members believed an OPS would be beneficial in their communities.

Establishing an OPS will begin with the creation of a community advisory council to guide community education and engagement efforts and OPS planning activities.

This important initiative brings needed support to one of the most highly affected areas for overdoses in Illinois. It is the next step in the Overdose Prevention Site Community Engagement Project that Governor Pritzker announced in an Executive Order, Strengthening the State's Commitment to Ending the Opioid Epidemic, earlier this year.

Chicago's West Side neighborhood can absolutely benefit from this work: Illinois Department of Public Health data shows that there were a total of 2,408 fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses in Chicago's West Side neighborhood in 2018, and a total of 2,568 fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses in 2019.

Overdose prevention sites (OPS) are legally sanctioned health service facilities that allow people to use pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of trained staff. OPS give people a safe, clean environment in the presence of trained staff who can step in immediately and respond if an overdose occurs.

Studies show that an OPS can reduce overdoses, improve public safety, reduce infectious disease risks, and connect people to substance use treatment and recovery support services. Sanctioned OPSs are an asset to the community as health centers that are staffed by health professionals and offer a variety of immediate health services to people who use drugs, such as Hepatitis vaccinations and services that can reduce the harms of drug use.

Click here to read the full press release: https://www2.illinois.gov/IISNews/21987-IDHS_Overdose_Prevention_Sites_Press_Release.pdf

Click here to read the full report and analysis of the Overdose Prevention Site Community Engagement Project: https://www.dhs.state.il.us/OneNetLibrary/27896/documents/OPS.pdf

I continue to be thankful for the data-driven, caring, and life-changing work taking place all across IDHS.



Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS