Council Reviews Contract for Drug Abuse Services

The town of Londonderry is focused on getting residents what they need to combat the drug crisis in New Hampshire.

In its June 20 meeting, the Council reviewed a proposal from Greater Derry Community Health Services to provide addiction support services to residents of Londonderry.

Town Manager Kevin Smith reminded the Council and television audience that in the voting this past March, residents approved allocating money to fight the opioid epidemic and finding an agency to help. Smith said he reached out to Greater Derry Community Health Services, an agency which has administered the town’s General Assistance needs for several years.

“They have been stellar agents of the money we have given them over the years,” Smith said. “We asked them if they could come up with a proposal.”

While voters approved up to $50,000 for services, GDCHS will do a program for $8,500 for the first year, Smith said. “They told me it’s best to take baby steps first, to assess the needs of the community.”

This in itself speaks to their ability, Smith said, noting, “Some vendors would have jumped at the chance to use all $50,000. But they honored the spirit of the warrant article.”

Councilor Joe Green observed, “This could get expensive if there’s a big issue.” But Smith said GDCHS has agreed to cap expenses at $8,500 for the initial services. “They are,” he said, “hedging their bets.”

“We can always go back to the $50,000 if more is needed,” Council Chair John Farrell observed.

Green also asked if the program was being leveraged by any state funds and Smith said no. “The money is coming from Londonderry, and it will assist only Londonderry families,” he said.

A proposal from Community Health Services Director Donna Tighe included the following:

• Discreet outreach;

• Prompt case management support; and

• Ongoing services as needed.

Tighe wrote that the “discreet outreach” includes placing referral materials and information in Londonderry’s five schools, with first responders, at area hospitals and clinics, with faith communities, county courts and the Leach Library.

While public forums offer a “faster and broader outreach to residents,” public forums also draw press and observers and may deter the truly needy from accessing the services, Tighe wrote. She wrote, “First-line contacts are the most reliable source of appropriate referrals.”

Through a confidential referral, GDCHS case managers will meet with any Londonderry resident who needs guidance and support around addiction options and services, Tighe wrote. This will include circumstance assessment, identification of priority needs, identification of resources, outreach to possible treatment partners, application help for public assistance programs, and follow-up.

Ongoing services are provided, with Tighe writing, “Often it is the consistent and reliable relationship that is built between client and case manager that fosters a sense of well-being and vision that success is possible.”

Tighe warned that there are no “magical solutions.” “Perspective, courage and calm are critical and CHS works with each individual to help them maintain momentum and balance throughout the relationship.”

The March warrant asked the voters “To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS ($50,000) to establish an addiction and counseling program for families in need with said funds to come from the June 30 Unassigned Fund Balance.” it was unanimously supported by both the Budget Committee and Town Council.

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