Clay embarks on program that treats CORE issues of opioid addiction

By Don Coble
Posted 10/26/22

MIDDLEBURG – After a successful two-year test run in Palm Beach County, Florida’s Coordinated Opioid Recovery program (CORE) will soon expand to seven other counties in the next two months, …

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Clay embarks on program that treats CORE issues of opioid addiction


MIDDLEBURG – After a successful two-year test run in Palm Beach County, Florida’s Coordinated Opioid Recovery program (CORE) will soon expand to seven other counties in the next two months, including Clay County.

State and local officials in the fight against opioid addiction, including Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Asst. Secretary for Substance Abuse and Mental Health for the Florid Department of Children and Families Erica Floyd Thomas, program architect and Deputy Secretary for Health Dr. Kenneth A. Scheppke joined officials with the Clay County Health Department, Fire Rescue and Clay Behavior Tuesday to announce the revolutionary program that’s designed to offer resources to break the vicious cycle of addiction.

“We’re here for a terrible reason in terms of the opioid crisis and all the harm that it has inflicted on Floridians and also around the country,” Ladapo said. “But we’re also here for a really hopeful reason because we’ve come with a part of the solution.”

CORE is a comprehensive approach that expands overdose responses and treats the primary and secondary impacts of substance abuse disorder. Floridians battling with addiction can utilize CORE to receive medically assisted treatment that is specialized to sustain a clean pathway to success. CORE will be expanded in two phases. Phase one counties include Clay, Brevard, Duval, Escambia, Gulf, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, and Volusia counties.

Typically, when somebody overdoses, they’re taken to the nearest hospital and released once they are out of danger. Once CORE is operational, an overdose patient will be treated by EMTs and emergency response technicians who have training in substance abuse. They then will be transported to a medical facility that’s also equipped to deal with addictions, similar to someone who is taken to a trauma center.

Treatment will include a sustainable clinical pathway to sobriety, including a transfer to a multi-specialty medical group to start medication-assisted treatment.

“Addiction is heartbreaking for all involved, and we ultimately want to help people address the stress traumas that led them to addiction,” Lapapo said when the program was unveiled in August. “One day the standard of care will address the trauma and the stress, but until then we have the evidence-based practices that exist in place.

This program is an applied, intensive application to managing addiction through powerful, effective practice that connects people to what they need to get out of the horrific cycle of addiction.”

The county already has a community paramedicine program that focuses on providing treatment and Narcan kits. To better focus on drug-related emergencies, Clay County Fire Rescue recently opened a community paramedicine office at the Grande Olde Plaza in Middleburg.

“It’s important for us not to underestimate what it means to offer someone a helping hand,” Floyd said. “And that’s our ultimate goal because department we’re able to do that.

The CORE network maximizes those moments of impact by comprehensively connecting the pieces. In addition to hospital services, outpatient treatment, medication-assisted treatment and peer support services.

“We want to make sure that we’re meeting people at the right place, at the right time, in the right moment that we’re able to support them. We know that substance use disorder is not acute or episodic. It’s a lifelong journey of recovery, and we want to be here on that journey of recovery.”

CCFR Battalion Chief Glenn East, who runs the community paramedicine program, said 24 people have remained sober for at least six months after participating in the county’s program. He also said nearly 200 have been – or still are participating – in the program.

One of the 24, Tammy Bugely, told her gripping story of living as a heroin and fentanyl addict for 20 years. She said she struggled to remain sober for the past 16 months.

“In May, almost two years ago, I overdosed,” she said. “My daughter and my mom found me in the bathroom, blue and almost dead.”

Another facet of the program is stabilizing other challenges facing addicts, like medical and mental health conditions, dental care and social services that can help with career training, housing or food insecurity.

“We can cure a lot of problems in our society,” Scheppke said.

To seek help, either as an addict or a family member of an addict, or to get more information on community paramedicine, call (904) 284-7703.


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