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New study aims to reduce overdoses in Cortland County (audio)

Local News, Meet Cortland County, On Demand, What We're Talking About

On Saturday’s Meet Cortland County segment:


An in-depth discussion about the HEALing Communities Study (HCS), a new federally-funded program aimed at reducing opioid overdose deaths in the nation’s most highly affected communities.

The ultimate goal is to reduce opioid-related overdose deaths by 40% over the course of three years.

Cortland County is one of just 16 in NY and 64 across four states (Ohio, Massachusetts and Kentucky) to be selected for the study.



Featured in this morning’s conversation were four individuals representing various area organizations.

  • Sara Watrous is the project director for the study and also serves with the Cortland Area Communities That Care (CACTC).
  • Dean O’Gorman lost his son to an overdose in 2017, leading him to establish a local parent grief support.
  • Teresa Van Heusen is clinical program director at the mental health department and has worked in the county for the past 21 years in the human service field.
  • Alex Mikowski is the project director for the Center of Treatment Innovation (COTI) program.


Launched by the National Institutes of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the study is being done in two waves.

The first began in January 2020 and the second – which Cortland is in – will begin in January 2022.



For more information, visit www.healingcortland.org or email Sara Watrous at swatrous@cortlandareactc.org.


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