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HC21 President/CEO, Gaye Fortner, attended the Mayor’s Summit on Opioid Misuse Thursday, October 18th in Downtown Knoxville. Criminal justice, health and education experts, along with employers were invited to discuss steps currently being taken and to brainstorm ideas for moving the community forward to address the issues. Tennessee ranks third in the nation in prescribing opioids and other drugs. Tennessee spends $2 billion annually on the issue; the country spends $820.5 billion.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, along with representatives from the Metro Drug Coalition, including Karen Pershing, MDC Executive Director, planned the meeting on substance misuse, specifically the opioid epidemic. Participants benefited from a criminal justice panel, an education/employer panel, and a health panel that each discussed the problem from their experience.

On October 10th, Mayor Rogero was in Washington, DC at a National League of Cities (NLC) briefing on Capitol Hill. She was one of three mayors from diverse communities around the country who visited to describe how their communities are working to address the opioid epidemic and to comment on what support is needed from federal leaders. Attending with Mayor Rogero were Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson from Gary, Indiana, and Mayor Steve Williams from Huntington, West Virginia.

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