| Florida Department of Health

Marion County’s Deputy Secretary and Health Officer addresses the audience. Photo credit: Ocala Star-Banner.

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Marion County, Florida – Today, State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Kenneth Schepke, and Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris, along with community partners, visited the Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE) expansion ) in Marion County – a comprehensive addiction and opioid treatment network.

This year, Florida survived 4000 fatal overdoses have been reported. In Marion County, EMS reported that in 2021, crews responded to more than 3,000 overdose calls. Current data shows Marion County is in the top 10 counties in Florida with the highest rate of fatal overdoses.

The CORE Network is the first of its kind in the nation, coordinated by the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Department of Children and Families and the Agency for Health Care Administration. The CORE Network’s comprehensive treatment approach expands every aspect of the overdose response and creates a comprehensive, sustainable system of care and patient navigation to holistically address all primary and secondary impacts of substance use disorder.

“The existing standard of care for substance use disorder is outdated. The current response to overdose in most of the United States treats acute overdose without providing access to sustainable care.” said Dr. Kenneth Schepke, Under Secretary for Health. “That’s exactly why we developed CORE. This program facilitates the necessary connections between local emergency response networks and specialized health care not only to respond to acute overdoses, but also to connect individuals with substance use disorder to sustainable and long-term care.

In the wake of Hurricane Ian, there are also concerns about increased substance use and overdose deaths due to the impact on people’s mental health and the disruption of normal pharmaceutical supply chains. It is critical that community partners provide resources to their communities as we recover from the devastation of Hurricane Ian. We must remain vigilant both now and in the long term to prevent overdose deaths.

“We are grateful for Governor DeSantis’ leadership in promoting the development of the CORe Network, a comprehensive model of care to address the opioid epidemic,” said Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevan Harris. “We must break down the traditional isolated approach and episodic treatment of this disease if we are to break the cycle of addiction. Partnership and collaboration are key to the success of this approach, and we at DCF could not be prouder to be a part of this first-of-its-kind model, alongside the Department of Health and so many other community partners.”

Substance abuse is a chronic multifaceted life-threatening disease. If a person in Marion County overdoses, the EMS protocol will begin stabilization while transporting the patient to a specialty hospital with specialized expertise in addiction medicine. Once all emerging health threats have been stabilized, the patient’s long-term care needs will be transferred to an expert multi-specialty outpatient practice to support sustainable recovery.

CORE provides a personalized treatment umbrella ranging from primary care to mental health support. By facilitating these connections in Marion County, CORE is breaking the revolving door of addiction by connecting overdoses with sustainable care in real time.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder and would like more information about CORE in Marion County, you can contact the Ocala Fire Department at 352-266-4769 or the Marion County Health Department .

If you suspect an overdose, call 911 immediately. The State of Florida has posted resources that can be posted in public places to ensure Floridians remain alert to the signs of an overdose, how to respond, and where help is available.

About the CORE Network

CORE was successfully piloted in Palm Beach County for nearly two years and will expand to up to twelve additional counties to help patients break free from the deadly cycle of overdose. Florida residents struggling with addiction can use CORE to stabilize and receive drug treatment from a network of dedicated medical experts to help set them on a lasting path to healthy success.

Florida is proud of its efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and continues to do so with access, evidence-based care and comprehensive treatment across the lifespan. Information about CORE and various recovery resources.

About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Council on Public Health Accreditation, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow us on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook. For more information about the Florida Department of Health, please visit

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