Social Worker Now Riding with Police to Help Drug Users Get Treatment

For the past couple of weeks, a social worker has been riding with Haverhill police, responding to opiate overdose calls and working to get victims into treatment.

Katherine “Katie” Ryan, outreach social worker, was hired two weeks ago as part of a $98,446 federal Edward J. Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program, administered by the state, according to Susan P. Grady, director of ambulatory services, NFI Massachusetts Inc. WHAV first reported the city’s receipt of the grant last July.

“We have hired the social worker doing the ride along piece with the police department. She goes through reports every couple of days when police respond to overdoses and conducts follow-up home visit,” said Grady. “The purpose is to engage those people into treatment.” She added Ryan has already had success getting people into detox, intensive day treatment and Structured Outpatient Addiction Program (SOAP).

On the police side, Captain Anthony Haugh is overseeing the program. WHAV has placed a call to Haugh for comment.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini thanked the state for its assistance in obtaining the grant. “It is my hope that this grant, along with the new health teachers we added to our schools, this epidemic will start to decline.” Haverhill City Councilor Colin F. LePage took steps this summer to encourage the school department to hire a second middle school health instructor. While the city council cannot specify how the schools spend money, LePage was successful in placing extra money into the schools’ rainy day fund.

Peabody-based NFI Massachusetts began as Northeastern Family Institute 41 years ago. It took over operations of Haverhill’s Team Coordinating Agency (TCA) last July 1, Grady said. Former TCA Executive Director Jonathan R. Miller continues to work for NFI as a consultant, said Lydia Todd, NFI deputy director. What is now known as NFI Clinic continues to operate at 76 Winter St., Haverhill. NFI operates 32 programs in Essex, Middlesex and Worcester counties, she said.

Meanwhile, the agency is seeking to fill another grant-funded post—that of a mentor to work with at-risk youth. “The mentor will spend some time at the Haverhill Boxing Club. This has more of a prevention angle to it,” Grady said. Those interested in applying for the position may contact Grady at (978) 373-1181, extension 38.