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Posted on: September 7, 2022

Newton, Gwinnett, Rockdale County leaders hold collaborative meeting

Image of Chairs outside tricounty breakfast

Three county commission chairpersons recently got together with one goal – to sustain and strengthen bonds in public health, mental health and communications. 

Gwinnett County Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson planted the seeds for the idea of what’s now named the Tri-County Collaboration Meeting. The inaugural event, hosted by Rockdale County Chairman Oz Nesbitt, also included Newton County Chairman Marcello Banes, GNR Public Health Director Audrey Arona, M.D. and View Point Health Director Jennifer Hibbard and staff from all three counties

“I'm excited to participate in this partnership, and I will continue to build a strong relationship with Chairman Oz Nesbitt, Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson and Rockdale and Gwinnett Counties,” Banes said. “This will be great for our communities and our region as we continue to push forward together.”

 “This collaborative – which unites us through a shared public health and mental health district – allows us to talk about strategies, successes, and common barriers, so we can forge solutions together,” said Hendrickson. “I am committed to strengthening this partnership with my neighboring counties because it will ultimately enhance the services for residents in this district.”

“Collaborative discussions and networking have always been important and ongoing between Rockdale, Newton and Gwinnett Counties,” said Nesbitt. “The culmination of our joint efforts further solidifies our shared vision toward a unified understanding and commitment for coordinated, focused public health and mental health initiatives for our citizens; a strategic review and implementation of business development plans that positively support our communities’ growth; as well as our commitment to a purposeful, dynamic understanding of the impact of future transportation, transit and housing needs.”

Image of Newton group at tricounty breakfast

A few key takeaways from the meeting include:

Mental Health 

View Point Health was successful with its co-responder model in both Gwinnett and Newton Counties. When a call comes in about a person experiencing a mental health crisis, a mental licensed clinician and police officer will both respond to the scene. This model has been adopted by several cities within the County. As a result, 98 percent of patients have been diverted from jail to get the care they need.

COVID-19 and Monkeypox

Talks also centered around COVID-19, with 24/7 PCR Test vending machines being established across the three counties. Arona said the Omicron-adapted booster will be available in September.

Concerning Monkeypox, Arona stated that misinformation about the viral disease has caused widespread panic. She said the virus is typically spread through direct, prolonged skin-to-skin contact to someone with exposed lesions. 

NARCAN and the OPIOID Crisis

A number of overdose cases have been reported across the districts. As a result, View Point Health has been working with law enforcement officers to administer NARCAN in emergencies. The nasal spray works as an OPIOID antagonist and can be lifesaving. 

The next Tri-County Collaboration meeting will take place in Gwinnett County. 

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