BRIDGING THE GAPS
to support strong and resilient work, home, and play environments
in our communities across Greater Prince William.
In 2018, Virginia’s Health Commissioner declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in Virginia. Recent events and preliminary data indicate that substance use prevention and mental health promotion is even more critical than ever as our communities and families face new challenges in the unfamiliar territory brought on by this uncertain time in U. S. history. Coalitions have been called upon like never before to step in and bridge the gaps in behavioral health and wellness services and access to resources across communities while our healthcare systems face the burden of the pandemic. In order to be effective in meeting the rising needs of our residents, the Prevention Alliance of Greater Prince William has gathered concerned citizens, leaders and stakeholders in the community to assess the shifting needs of our community and build comprehensive solutions to those needs utilizing our diverse network and open platform, unique to coalitions.
Due to their unique structure, community coalitions offer numerous potential advantageous over working independently.
- Coalitions can conserve resources.
- Coalitions can achieve more widespread reach within a community and accomplish objectives beyond the scope any single organization could attain.
- Coalitions have greater shared credibility than individual organizations.
- Coalitions provide a forum for sharing information and for great networking opportunities.
- Coalitions provide a range of advice and perspectives.
- Each coalition member or organization can contribute their particular expertise or resources to facilitate activities by other members or by the coalition as a whole.
- Coalitions can foster cooperation between grassroots organizations, community members, and/or diverse sectors of a large organization.
- Effective network for information dissemination regarding community-wide activities and initiatives.
Virginia Department of Health: State Report
In October of 2020, the Virginia Department of Health released their Quarterly Report on Fatal Drug Overdoses in Virginia. Preliminary numbers from Quarter 2 (April 1st – June 31st) of 2020 suggest an enormous increase in fatal overdoses since the beginning of the COVID-19 national shutdown (preliminary increase of 66.8% in Q2 2020 compared to Q2 2019) and indicated that 2020 maybe be the worst year on record by far for fatal overdoses in Virginia.
Virginia Department of Health: Preliminary Local Data
Local data for the Cities of Manassas, Manassas Park, and the Greater Prince William County have also indicated a continued rise in overdoses. Prince William Health District data for Quarter 3 (July – September 2020) indicates a 128% increase in opioid overdose visits to the Emergency Department since last year. More than ever, it is important that our lay community members, residents, business owners, caregivers, community workers, and many others are prepared to respond in the event of an opioid emergency.
Greater Prince William Area Community Needs Assessment (2016)
- Substance Use/Abuse and Mental Health Conditions was one of the top three health needs identified by the Coalition of Greater Prince William in their Community Health needs assessment.
- Prince William County, Manassas City, and Manassas Park City had an excessive drinking percentage per 100,000 residents greater than the state average (2014).
- The rate of alcohol- impaired driving deaths in Manassas Park City is more than 3 times the other jurisdictions and greater than the state average.
“Overdose deaths rose 11.3% in 2018, with 59 deaths, up from 53 in 2017. There were 50 opioid overdoses in 2018, and of those, 40 were fentanyl overdoses.“– Former Prince William County Police Chief, Barry Barnard
Related Local Data
- There are 33 active gangs in the Greater Prince William Area made of approximately 900 members, and creating 10-15% of crime (Gang Response Intervention Team).
- A normal summer month sees the referral of approximately 65 – 100 potential child exploitation cases reported on the National Center for Missing Children (NCMEC) hotline. During COVID, this referral rate has increased to 250 – 400 case referrals (Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce).
The Public Health Approach to Prevention
According to the CDC, the focus of public health is on the health, safety and well-being of entire populations. A unique aspect of the approach is that it strives to provide the maximum benefit for the largest number of people by leaning on science-based, multidisciplinary input from diverse disciplines and sectors. Some of these disciplines include medicine, epidemiology, sociology, psychology, criminology and education among others which allows for a holistic response to a population-level issue or condition. Diverse public sectors serve as the action-collective that help identify and address community problems using this 4 step process.
Step 1: Define and Monitor the Problem
- Answers the “who”, “what”, “when”, “where” and “how” associated with the problem
- The magnitude of the problem is demonstrated though qualitative and quantitative community data
Step 2: Identify Risk and Protective Factors
- Help to focus prevention efforts
- Reducing risks and supporting protective factors can help shape a safe, drug free environment without duplicating existing community resources
Step 3: Develop and Test Prevention Strategies
- Using current data to inform strategies for targeted impact on the problem
- Implementing evidence-based strategies with fidelity
- Frequent monitoring ensures strategy effectiveness and sustainability
Step 4: Assure Widespread Adoption
- Goal measurement / achievement in step 3 determines the extent of which a strategy should be adopted more broadly
- Dissemination techniques such as training, technical assistance & networking help promote widespread awareness, adoption, & community connectedness