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Health Departments in Reno County and Monroe County participate in Mentoring Program


By Reno County KS Local Government


RENO COUNTY, Kan. — The Reno County Health Department was selected to be mentors to the Monroe County Health Department in Wisconsin by NACCHO (National Association of City and County Health Officials) under the ROCA (Reducing Overdose through Community Action) project beginning in January 2023.

Seth Dewey, Reno County Substance Misuse Health Educator, said, “We were paired with them based off similar rural demographics and goals they have for their community including improved data collection around non-fatal and fatal overdoses, improving collaboration between public health, public safety, and harm reduction and recovery groups in the area.  We have been meeting virtually every month offering Technical Assistance to a workplan they developed.”

Both groups have made site visits to tour and collaborate with each county’s local partners. 

Eryn Leahy, Hannah Shimanek and Laura Reutlinger, Community Health Educators at Monroe County Health Department in Sparta, Wisconsin, recently made the trip to Kansas to visit with the Reno County Health Department in Hutchinson. 

On Monday morning, January 15, 2024, Reno County Health Educators gave Monroe County Educators an in-depth history of the Reno Recovery Collaborative, starting with the Drug Impact Task Force which was established in 2015. This allowed them to show the evolution of the group, what assessments guided their decision making, and the steps taken to make the changes based off the assessments.

Dewey said, “After that we went into depth on our data collection and sharing processes to guide the work on our overdose monitoring, targeted naloxone distributions, the overdose spike alert framework, and where we hope to go with new projects like the overdose fatality review. We then held our monthly meeting discussing where Monroe County is at on their action plan and on their sustainability plan.” 

On Tuesday they met with community partners like New Beginnings, Kansas Recovery Network, and the Reno County District Attorney’s Office. They attended the Reno Recovery Collaborative meeting and then that afternoon held their final closeout meeting with NACCHO, the federal funder.

Laura Reutlinger with Monroe County said, “Reno County Health Department has provided vital support as we work to implement harm reduction programming and build relationships in our community. We have enjoyed working together and learning from their successes in Kansas. We appreciated meeting the valuable partners they work with on our recent site visit and look forward to continuing our mentorship in the future.”

From June 14-16, 2023, Reno County Health Department Educators Candace Davidson, Seth Dewey and Tonya Culp made the trip to the Monroe County Health Department and were able to do a site visit that included speaking with law enforcement, EMS, and the local coroner. Dewey said, “Upon seeing our process and structure, ‘our model,’ all parties agreed to pursue onboarding to ODMAP and use the Health Department to gather the data on overdoses and create a dashboard similar to ours to make available to the community. We were also able to meet with their local Harm Reduction and Recovery groups to make everyone aware of services available in the area and show how they can fit in to the same work the public safety group will be doing. In this we showed them the structure of the Reno Recovery Collaborative and the group is going to pursue the same structure for subcommittees and future work with the Health Department as the Backbone Organization.”

Reno County Health Department Educators said that working on NACCHO’s Reducing Overdose through Community Action (ROCA) project as a mentor to Monroe County has deepened their appreciation for the work that we all do in our communities. 

Dewey said, “It (the mentorship) has made me appreciate our partnerships here in Reno County even more so and re-emphasized the importance of networking out of our area. Monroe County has such a passionate and dedicated team that we were honored to work with for the last year. They are valuable assets to their community, and I am confident they will continue to foster the cross-sector relationships they have started. We were proud to share our practices, tools, and experience with them to reduce further harms related to substance use and in turn reduce overdose and improve the collaboration in their area.”