Palm Beach County Commissioners look to create a position to lead the opioid fight

Posted at 7:38 PM, Apr 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-03 19:39:23-04

It’s the harsh reality all across Palm Beach County, the skyrocketing number of people dying of opioid overdoses.

County leaders now believe it’s time to take action, starting with hiring someone to lead the fight to save lives.

Hiring a so-called “opioid czar” and giving that person the resources he or she needs will not come cheap. However, some commissioners believe if they don’t spend the money now, the cost in lives will be unimaginable. 

“We really need one person to be a point person on this issue,” said Commissioner Steven Abrams.

Tuesday the county commission will decide whether to create a senior level position within the county administration for that exact purpose.

It’s part of comprehensive a set of recommendations in an effort to save both lives and money.

“It stresses the system. It is a burden on our entire health care system,” said Abrams.

The effort comes at a cost to tax payers, starting with one million dollars from the county’s reserve fund.
However, Commissioner Abrams says this is what that reserve is for.

“Unfortunately, it is a health crisis. That is what our resources are for.”

He says being proactive now could save more money in the long run.

“It is well worth getting out in front of the problem. To deal with it now, than have to spend much more later.”

And Commissioner Dave Kerner agrees.

“It’s exponentially more expensive to let this problem progress than attacking it early on,” said Kerner.

Commissioners will also vote on whether to add two new positions to the Medical Examiner’s Office to help them. All of these items are recommended for approval.