Butler County has a new leader to oversee programs and funding dedicated to fighting the opioid epidemic.
Tiffany Lombardo will now lead the Butler County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Services Board, which merged from two separate entities into one in 2015 and has created a $3.6 million Opiate Business Plan to attack the county’s opioid crisis.
Lombardo, a Riley Twp. resident, began working at the county board just after the two groups merged and said her mindset has always been one of collaboration.
“I came in with the perspective we’re going to be working together, we cannot work in silos. Mental health and addiction are intertwined together,” said Lombardo, whose experience includes work in the mental health and addiction fields.
With the opioid epidemic moving away from just heroin and encompassing other drugs, the board must rethink how it attacks certain issues and look for funding that isn’t heroin-specific, Lombardo said.
The MHARS board developed a $3.6 million Opiate Business Plan — though it is revising that plan to encompass more — a couple years ago.
MORE: Butler County gets $830,000 in federal money to fight opioid crisis
Earlier this year, it was determined mental health levy funds could also be used for addiction services.
Lombardo has already been writing grant proposals that broaden the scope of what can be funded, but she said the board need to go farther.
The way things stand now she said they need to advocate for changing grant and other funding protocols, at all levels of government, erasing some of the specific terminology.
“So if we can treat addiction, if we can put money into and support programming that prevents addiction, that’s the only way we’re going to even begin to start to turn the tide on the global problem,” Lombardo said. “We need to address addiction, we need to address mental health, we need to address prevention and not just focus on one specific drug, because the more we do that we’re just going to end up being behind for the next crisis.”
Lombardo’s job includes the position of senior director of addiction services, which had been held by Julie Payton.
Payton said she left the board in August to pursue other interests.
“I am prioritizing time with family,” she told the Journal-News.
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