By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

The Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) has approved an amendment to a Justice Reinvestment Grant allowing the money to be used for a resource center in Gold Beach.

The center will provide transitional services to released inmates, according to Curry County Parole and Probation Director David Denney.

He said he submitted the request to the CJC asking for a plan modification of the grant to help the Parole and Probation Department fund the resource center project.

Curry Homeless Coalition Director Beth Barker-Hidalgo, who proposed the resource center when she saw the Curry County Sheriff’s Office was seeking a peer support specialist, said the resource center will target the needs of the inmate population by providing case management and peer support specialists.

Coast Community Health Center will provide staff who are Oregon Health Plan (OHP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program assisters to enroll or re-enroll inmates in Medicaid/OHP upon release, according to Hidalgo.

“Many are unaware inmates lose their Medicaid benefits while incarcerated,” she said. “Counties are on the hook for healthcare while inmates are lodged.”

Oregon Coast Community Action officials expressed interest in renting space at the center, according to Hidalgo, and would provide better access to supportive services for housing, energy assistance, SSVF (Supportive Services for Veteran Families), the Family Assistance Support Team and more.

She said office space will be offered to the county veteran service officer and other interested partners serving the target population and added she is negotiating with the Ford Family Foundation to obtain money for employment services.

Hidalgo said, “We are targeting private providers, employment service providers and other partners to work in the resource center.”

Digital access

Heidi VanDyck of Reliance eHealth Collaborative reported working with Curry Community Health (CCH) to provide electronic referrals and digital access to medical records for the jail, CCH and Curry Health Network.

“Our program will lead to faster access to medical records and referrals and faster treatment,” she said. “And we will also be connected to the Veterans Administration.”

According to VanDyck, when a patient is referred to other services or released from jail, the electronic referral system will allow faster communication.

AllCare, an integrated health organization based in Southern Oregon, originally requested Reliance’s services for the county, she said, and she assured the council their records were privately and legally transmitted.

Party dispersal project

Youth Advocate Gordon Clay asked the council’s law enforcement members to work together and coordinate party dispersals where youth gather on the rivers, especially at South Fork campground on the Chetco River.

He noted two traffic accidents that have left young people injured over the last two summers and said he knew from sources that drugs and alcohol were being made available to large numbers of minors.

Clay recommended the agencies take certain days and appoint officers to drive up the rivers to disperse parties where illegal activities are occurring. He said arrests should be made and fully prosecuted to dissuade illegal behavior.

Awareness programs

Oasis Shelter Home Director Lea Sevey announced upcoming strangulation awareness programs that teach awareness of strangulation and educate law enforcement and prosecutors about the importance of investigating and prosecuting strangulation as a specific form of violence and domestic violence.

The programs are Oct. 25 in Gold Beach and Oct. 26 in Crescent City.

For more information, contact Sevey at 541-425-5238.

Fentanyl

Oregon State Police Lt. Jeff Lewis of the Coos Bay Area Command alerted those present that lab tests showed pills made to look like OxyContin and confiscated near Klamath Falls were fentanyl.

Fentanyl is an opioid used for pain reduction and anesthesia, and is the strongest of all opioid drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It poses potential dangers for first responders because they can be exposed through multiple routes including inhalation, mucous membrane contact, ingestion, needlestick, and skin contact.

However, skin contact is unlikely to lead to an overdose unless large volumes of highly concentrated powder are encountered over an extended period of time, according to the CDC.

Reach Boyd C. Allen at ballen@currypilot.com .

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