You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

Failure to land $10 million grant grates on sober home community


Members of the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force were incredulous last week that the county lost out on millions of dollars of state money to fight the heroin epidemic.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Al Johnson said “coffee came up my nose” when he read the news in The Palm Beach Post. Other members shook their heads or took aim at the Health Care District, the agency that asked for the money.

The task force members are on the front lines of the heroin epidemic, which has hit Palm Beach County as hard — or harder — than anywhere in the state. The Health Care District’s request for $10 million to battle the epidemic, they believed, would have gone a long way.

News that they received nothing didn’t sit well with some officials, who said DCF wasn’t “aware” of how critical the problem is here.

But John Bryant, assistant secretary for substance abuse and mental health for DCF, said the grants were not based solely on need, but by the responses in the grant application.

“If this were needs-based, we wouldn’t have this discussion,” he told the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force on Monday.

The health district’s efforts were blasted by Dr. Karen Dodge, a member of the Sober Home Task Force and director of neuro-rehabilitation services at Florida House, a drug addiction recovery center.

She told task force members that the health district spent only a month working on the application. Broward, which won one of the three grants, worked on the application for a year, she said.

“We need to do our homework and submit this on time, with grant writers who are prepared,” she said. “We need to do our homework. They did not.”

Broward’s Henderson Behavioral Health, which received $21.9 million, did not spend a year working on the application — the RFP was only announced in July. But the team worked “very hard” on it, CEO Dr. Steve Ronik said.

DCF’s Bryant said a team evaluated the bids and ranked them on a scoring system. The Health Care District’s proposal wasn’t close to winning, placing 10th of 12. There was only enough money for the top three proposals.

He said that he read only the winning applicants, and didn’t know the quality of the health district’s proposal.

The health district’s 106-page proposal is replete with technical and historical fact, but doesn’t ever lay out the scope of the heroin epidemic in Palm Beach County, a treatment destination for recovering addicts from around the country.

A grand jury report released Dec. 12 said 406 people have died from opioid-related overdoses in Palm Beach County through October as heroin, often mixed with deadly fentanyl, takes it toll.

The Palm Beach Post documented 216 heroin-related deaths in 2015 in Palm Beach County in a special section, Heroin: Killer of a Generation. The Nov. 20 investigation showed how some local and state officials remain tone deaf to the problem.

The Health Care District — the taxpayer-supported safety net for medical services — planned to use the $10 million to launch a new program to aid drug addicts who overdose and land in hospital emergency rooms, helping them detox and finding treatment. It also planned to establish a central facility to provide services to uninsured drug abusers.

DCF awarded $40 million of “centralized receiving systems” grant money to Broward, Leon and Volusia counties. The bulk of it went to Henderson.

On Monday, Health Care District CEO Darcy Davis did not address the criticism, saying the focus needs to be on the heroin crisis.

“We remain hopeful that there may be future opportunities that are more suited to the Health Care District’s current programs and services within the county,” she said.

She reiterated that the district plans to find ways to partner with other agencies, such as the Southeast Florida Behavioral Health Network and first responders.

Becky Walker, director of network management for the behavioral health network, said a back-and-forth with DCF over the failed bid is counter-productive.

“We just want to try to work with our partners and do what is best for our people in Palm Beach County,” Walker said. “Let’s move forward.”

Henderson behavioral health’s pitch was for police to take people suffering from mental illness or substance abuse to facilities around the county, including Henderson, instead of jail. At the facility, the patient would receive treatment, case management, sustained outpatient service — even transportation for treatment afterward.

Ronik said he didn’t know how his proposal compared to Palm Beach County’s.

“We scored No. 1, so the reviewers liked our application very much,” he said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

NEW: Man, 40, arrested for hitting father over ice cream disagreement
NEW: Man, 40, arrested for hitting father over ice cream disagreement

A 40-year-old man was arrested Sunday for cutting his father during an argument about ice cream, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office report made public Monday. Deputies say Steven Ritter became irate and cut his father with the family house phone after being told not to eat the ice cream in the living room. His mother told authorities...
Need to learn how to be a property landlord? Lake Worth may show you
Need to learn how to be a property landlord? Lake Worth may show you

Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell believes some city property owners can benefit from taking a ‘How To Be A Landlord’ class Lake Worth is exploring. LAKE WORTH — Lake Worth’s code compliance division has had its share of problems in recent...
Trump staff shake-up: Who’ll be right, news media or National Enquirer?
Trump staff shake-up: Who’ll be right, news media or National Enquirer?

Does the National Enquirer, run by a friend of President Donald Trump, really know who in the White House is going to get fired? Enquiring minds do want to know. Yes, it feels like speculation of a shake-up in the Trump administration started just after the Jan. 20 inaugural. The media — including CNN and Fox News — have cited sources,...
JUST IN: Massive swarm of bees kills Florida dog
JUST IN: Massive swarm of bees kills Florida dog

A dog in Florida died after it was stung over 100 times by bees while children inside the home watched helplessly.   WPTV reported that the 45-pound dog, Delilah, was in a Boca Raton backyard when it was attacked by a swarm. The dog’s owner, Debbie Leonard, told WPTV that she had left the home when the dog was attacked, but her children...
One restaurant closes, another opens in Boynton’s Renaissance Commons
One restaurant closes, another opens in Boynton’s Renaissance Commons

Grilled-cheese sandwich lovers have a limited time in Boynton Beach to buy their favorite sandwich from MELT “Crafted Grilled Cheese.” The restaurant in Renaissance Commons, which opened in 2014, will close Sunday. The menu includes a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches, chopped salads and side...
More Stories