CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Dr. Susan Bissett believes it takes an entire community to come together to make an impact on something.

That’s why Bissett, the president of West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute (WVDII) at the University of Charleston, was proud of the partnership announcement on Monday morning between her organization of the City of Charleston.

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Dr. Susan Bissett

WVDII has joined forces with Charleston’s Coordinated Addiction Response Effort (CARE) to expand prevention, recovery and outreach services for substance use disorder.

“Nothing can happen in a vacuum, in isolation or a silo,” Bissett said. “There are a lot of partnerships that are going to have to happen with time to really make an impact on substance use disorder in Charleston and throughout the state.”

The two partners will collect aggregate data and conduct analysis to identify gaps in services, expand and evaluate the Quick Response Team program.

Bissett said she is most looking forward to the expansion of the program.

“What that means is really looking at overdose data from a number of different sources including fire, EMS, police, the ER, and emergency departments so we can really determine where we need to focus our efforts in the city of Charleston,” she said.

Bissett added the programs offered by WVDII when it comes to substance use disorder are in works to expand to other counties and regions of the state.

She said the partnership with Charleston is only the beginning of partnerships. According to her, the next program to be looked at is the Rex the RX education of medication to kindergarten students.

City of Charleston

Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin (left) signs an MOU with former UC President Ed Welch.

“One of the things we are trying to do is reach people before they use a substance To teach them the importance of that medication safety so we don’t have to deal with another generation of individuals who have to face recovery.”

WVDII and the City have co-hosted eight listening sessions with stakeholders in the Charleston community to better understand gaps in services, identify successful programs and policies and explore creative solutions to combating SUD, a release said.

The partners have also met with over 40 stakeholders across the city working to address challenges associated with SUD.

Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin and former UC President Ed Welch also spoke at the event inside Charleston City Council Chambers on Monday morning.