LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Wednesday to bring together leaders from across state governments, in order to tackle the opioid epidemic.
The order was signed on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. It creates the Michigan Opioids Task Force. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for the State of Michigan and chief deputy director for health for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, will serve as chair of the task force.
Officials from the governor's office said the task force will be charged with identifying the root causes of the opioid epidemic and implementing response actions to help Michiganders struggling with opioid addiction access the recovery services they need. The task force will also work to raise public awareness about the opioid epidemic and the resources available to those impacted by it.
“As governor, my number one priority is protecting our families and our overall public health,” said Whitmer. “Right now, Michigan is among the states with the highest levels of opioid prescriptions and overdose deaths, with 2,053 overdoses in 2017 alone. This task force will bring us one step closer to finally ending the opioid epidemic in Michigan and keeping families safe.”
The task force's focuses include increasing access to medication assisted treatment, harm reduction, and specialized populations like pregnant women and returning citizens, officials said.
The task force will also work to build care between substance use disorder treatment provided across the system and warm handoffs to community based services. Individuals exiting emergency rooms after an overdose and jails after an arrest are at extremely high risk when they are released.
“Too many families have been devastated by the opioid epidemic in Michigan,” said Dr. Khaldun. “If we’re going to keep Michiganders safe and healthy, we must get to work addressing this crisis. The team at MDHHS is ready to work with all of our partners in state government to help Michiganders get on the road to recovery and prevent opioid addiction in the first place.”