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Mahoning County Public Health fights substance use with the Opioid Epidemic Outreach solution

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1 million people have died from drug overdoses in the last couple of decades, with a majority of these deaths involving an opioid.

These chilling statistics represent an epidemic that affects virtually every community and cannot be ignored. And since the opioid epidemic is a community issue, it makes sense that improving outcomes starts at the community level.

In most communities, it is up to public health agencies to provide resources that educate residents about opioids, offer prevention services, and, if necessary, connect people with a substance use disorder to the appropriate treatment and recovery resources. But keeping an accurate and up-to-date inventory of these resources can be complicated; new providers become available while others close down, and operating hours and contact information can change over time.

Opioid resources must be available when people need them. The Opioid Epidemic Outreach solution helps public agencies create and maintain a resource inventory, communicate important information about the severity of the epidemic, and promote resources available to community members in need.

Plan

Like so many communities, Mahoning County, Ohio, has seen an increase in unintentional drug overdoses and overdose deaths in recent years. While the county provides great programs and services, its public health department knew they could be even more effective and could reach more people if they increased awareness of their work. They wanted to make information about these services more widely available, for example, and they hoped to create an easier and more comprehensive display of the data that they had been collecting since 2016.

In 2023, Bharat Chaturvedi, a public health epidemiologist with Mahoning County Public Health (MCPH), attended the Esri User Conference in San Diego, California. At the ArcGIS Solutions Expo booth, he discussed the issue with a product engineer, who introduced Chaturvedi to the Opioid Epidemic Outreach solution. The product engineer described how organizations similar to MCPH—including a neighboring Ohioan county—had adopted the solution with great results, and Chaturvedi knew he had found the answer.

Provide

Prior to deploying the Opioid Epidemic Outreach solution, the county’s process was consistent but somewhat slow: Analysts entered monthly epidemic data into Excel and then used the same software to produce charts. The resulting infographics were copied into a Word document and distributed monthly as a static report through an email LISTSERV. Each report displayed only that month’s data along with cumulative data for the year.

The Opioid Epidemic Outreach dashboard has streamlined our data sharing with our community partners.

Jennifer Patrick Community Health Education Specialist, MCPH

Adopting the Opioid Epidemic Outreach solution has enabled MCPH to create a hub of important information for its community. Now, outside agencies can visit MCPH’s Opioid Epidemic Outreach ArcGIS Hub site to easily access the data they need for grant writing and community reports. “Instead of sending out multiple reports and links to communicate information,” says Chaturvedi, “we have a one-stop shop for all things related to the opioid epidemic here in Mahoning County.”

Interactive dashboard showing opioid epidemic data for Mahoning County, Ohio.
MCPH's Opioid Epidemic Outreach Hub site includes an interactive dashboard with key demographic information.

The site also enables MCPH to provide resources that they couldn’t before. Community members can visit the site to find information about prevention, treatment and recovery, or harm reduction, and they can access overdose and Quick Response Team data clearly displayed in a series of charts.

A laptop screen showing the Locate Treatment Centers interactive web map.
The Hub site also includes an interactive map of treatment center locations.

MCPH’s Hub site now serves as the heart of the county’s efforts to provide critical information about substance use disorders and treatment options available to the community. Chaturvedi notes that now, for both the agency and the whole community, anything and everything related to overdose resources is just one click away.

Learn more

For more information about the Opioid Epidemic Outreach solution, check out the following resources:

About the authors

Mindy happily works as a senior product engineering writer on the ArcGIS Solutions team. When she isn't playing with maps, language, or language related to maps, she enjoys spending time with her family or pondering the meaning of life with her desert tortoise Kevin.

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Chelsea is the Product Marketing Manager for ArcGIS Hub.

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Jeremiah is an ArcGIS Solutions product engineer. He has more than 20 years experience with Esri, including six years as an instructor with Educational Services and several years as a solution engineer on the State and Local Government Global Business team. For the last several years he has been supporting public safety and health workflows with ArcGIS Solutions.

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