Allen County, Fort Wayne take action against opioid distributors and producers

Allen County and the city of Fort Wayne are both taking legal action against distributors and producers of opioids, joining a number of counties and municipalities taking similar actions.

In a unanimous vote Dec. 15, Allen County Commissioners agreed to file a suit that aims to reimburse public entities for financial loss related to opioid related autopsies, emergency response, naloxone supplies and other expenses incurred to combat the epidemic, according to county officials. The lawsuit, which had yet to be filed, targets 11 pharmaceutical companies and opioid distributors. The law firm being used is Crueger Dickinson, based in Milwaukee.

“Opioid addiction is an issue that affects many different phases of our county,” said Commissioner Therese Brown. “Not only has it put additional burdens on law enforcement and health providers, but it’s affecting many employers as their workers and potential hires succumb to opioid abuse and addiction. This lawsuit is a move toward addressing this major problem.”

Fort Wayne plans to file a public nuisance lawsuit against the country’s three largest wholesale drug distributors – Amerisource Bergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson Corp.

The three companies together control more than 80 percent of the prescription opioid market, according to a city statement. The city hired Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP based in Indianapolis as lead counsel to pursue the effort to hold the companies responsible. Funds recovered through a successful lawsuit would be used to assist the community in maximizing resources in overcoming the opioid epidemic through education, treatment and law enforcement initiatives.

“It’s our duty to serve and protect the public,” Mayor Tom Henry said. “Today’s action demonstrates our ongoing commitment to doing all we can to reduce the negative impact that drugs are having on individuals, families, health care, law enforcement and the judicial system.”

According to statistics from the Fort Wayne Police Department, from Jan. 1 through Dec. 1, city emergency has responded to 94 overdose deaths, with 50 pending, and 1,130 overdose runs (98 in November alone), resulting in a cost of $90,000 in man-hours. Emergency personnel has administered narcan/naloxone to more than 500 patients during that time period.

AWS commits $500,000 to Boys and Girls Club campaign

The AWS Foundation board awarded the Boys and Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne $500,000 for its capital campaign and adaptive services programming.

This year, BGCFW formed a “blue ribbon committee” to raise $7.7 million for a new facility to be located at the current site, 2609 Fairfield Ave., which will increase space from 26,000 to 42,000 square feet and double the number of at risk youth served. The building will be completed in 2018.

AWS Foundation works to help children and adults with enduring intellectual development and physical disabilities live as independently as possible and become fully engaged in community life. Three-quarters of the grant will be utilized for building improvements. Those will include an outside canopy to ease loading and unloading, an inclusive playground, a sensory room, wider doorways with continuous hinges, smooth flooring transitions, single-occupancy privacy restrooms on each floor with space for those with special needs or who need extra assistance and quiet areas that will be inviting to individuals with both physical and intellectual abilities, according to a joint statement from the agencies.

“With the new structure, children of all abilities will benefit by the enhanced inclusive socialization and programming,” Patti Hays, CEO of AWS Foundation, said in a statement.

One quarter of the grant will expand adaptive services programming with many new activities and programs that “will enrich their lives and help them reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens,” Joe Jordan, president and CEO of the clubs, said in the statement.

Building demolition begins in late January 2018.

Foellinger supports early childhood program

Foellinger Foundation is granting $500,000 to provide three years of support to the Let’s Grow! early childhood program.

Associated Churches’ Let’s Grow! program focuses on childcare ministries in urban Fort Wayne neighborhoods. The Let’s Grow! funding supports the projects that build developmental learning, staff learning environments, staff training and mentoring workshops, according to a Foellinger statement.

With this grant, Foellinger Foundation has invested nearly $1.25 million in Let’s Grow! since 2011, making this one of the foundation’s signature grants.

Foellinger Foundation strategically supports effective organizations. This program has demonstrated great success by providing:

• Early childhood development and funding of age-appropriate projects serving over 1,000 children;

• Professional development of more than 25 directors and 100 members of their teaching staffs;

• Project administrations, including coaching and mentoring of grantees; and

• Independent evaluation of the project.

“Communities need to invest in training and education in the childcare field in order to provide high-quality and developmentally focused early learning environments to all children,” Cheryl Taylor, Foellinger Foundation president, said in the statement.

Many of the Let’s Grow! childcare centers have attained Paths to Quality - Level 1 status and beyond.

Paths to Quality is the Indiana child care quality rating and improvement system.

St. Joe Foundation grants funds to Matthew 25

Matthew 25 Health and Dental Clinic of Fort Wayne is receiving three separate grants totaling $210,704 from the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation.

Of that, $200,000 is earmarked for indirect patient care, while the $10,704 is a special grant from the Charles F. & Henrietta Eckart Pfeiffer restricted fund to purchase a “ScanX” x-ray developer for the dental clinic.

“We are so grateful for the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation’s support and the support of our community. Their continued foundational support and generosity allows us to serve the uninsured and low income residents of northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio,” Mark Dixon, Matthew 25 CEO, said in a statement.

Matthew 25 Clinic provides medical and dental care to people who are uninsured and live at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. In the last fiscal year, Matthew 25 logged more than 20,000 patient visits and dispensed more than $6 million in prescription medications. The clinic is staffed by 29 staff members and 511 volunteers.

Parkview sponsors Project READS at Huntertown

Parkview Community Health is sponsoring the Project READS site at Huntertown Elementary.

As the Huntertown site sponsor, Parkview contributed $3,500 for the 2017-2018 program year that runs from September through April.

Project READS serves kindergarten through third grade students in Allen County who are currently reading below grade level. A trained volunteer is paired with each student for one hour a week to tutor that child in literacy skills. The program is located at 19 other sites in Allen County.

For more information about Project READS, visit www.abouteducation.org.

Arbor Glen receives ‘Best of 2018 Award’

Holiday Retirement’s Arbor Glen in Fort Wayne was recently recognized by SeniorAdvisor.com as part of the ‘Best of 2018 Awards.’

SeniorAdvisor.com, the largest ratings and reviews site for senior care and services, honored the independent senior living community for receiving consistently high ratings from residents and their families throughout 2017, according to a statement.

“At Holiday Retirement’s Arbor Glen, the team is passionate about serving seniors and their families — it’s not just a job, it’s a calling,” Lilly Donohue, CEO of Holiday Retirement, said in the statement. “I am incredibly proud of the dedicated team members and their compassion for our residents that contributed to the prestigious SeniorAdvisor.com recognition this year.”

This is the third year Arbor Glen has received a ‘Best of Award’ from SeniorAdvisor.com. Senior living communities had to meet two important criteria: 1) maintain an average overall rating of at least 4.5 stars; and 2) have received four or more reviews in 2017.

New Tech students honor friend with donation

New Tech Academy students at Wayne High School are donating $2,504 to two charities in honor of a friend who is fighting cancer.

The students designed and sold “Reagan Strong” T-shirts to raise money to support classmate Reagan Swinford. However, Swinford requested the money be donated to others in need.

The students will be making donations to the Fort Wayne Community Schools clothing bank and the Ronald McDonald House at Parkview Regional Medical Center.

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