Florida leadership visits Gulf County CORE Network


Hannah Saunders


Over the last year, there have been over 4,000 reported fatal substance overdoses in Florida, while current data indicates that Gulf County is among the top ten counties in the state with the greatest fatal overdose rates. 


On December 7th, Department of Health Secretary, Dr. Kenneth Scheppke, alongside Secretary Shevaun Harris of the Department of Children and Families, visited Gulf County to comment on its expansion of the Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE).  CORE is a network of addiction and opioid treatment that takes a full-scale treatment approach that the state is expanding to 12 counties throughout the state after a two-year pilot program in Palm Beach County yielded success. 



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The CORE Network expands aspects that go into opioid response and creates a sustained system of care, in addition to patient navigation, to address primary and secondary impacts of substance use disorder. 


“The existing standard of care for substance use disorder is outdated. The current overdose response in most of the United States treats the acute overdose, without providing access to sustainable care,” Scheppke said. “That’s exactly why we’ve developed CORE. This program facilitates the necessary connections among local emergency response and specialty health care networks to not only respond to an acute overdose, but to connect individuals suffering from substance use disorder to sustainable and long-term care.”  


CORE is being rolled out in two phases. Phase I counties include Brevard, Clay, Escambia, Gulf, Marion, Pasco, and Volusia. Phase II counties include Citrus, Duval, Flagler, Manatee, and Pinellas. The departments have not publicly listed when Phase II rollout will begin. 


Substance use disorder care generally involves an overdose experience, the provision of emergency response, Narcan or drug detox, the occurrence of withdrawal, discharge from care, and potential relapse. The CORE Program places care and peer navigators directly within Emergency Departments. Part of CORE’s process includes bypassing certain hospitals and transporting patients to specialty subject matter hospitals, which are like trauma centers.  


In addition to recovering from substance use disorder, the CORE program ensures the stabilization and treatment of co-existing medical and mental health conditions among patients. CORE also assists patients with receiving dental care, primary care, psychiatric evaluation, maternal care, and social support services such as career training, housing, and food insecurity.  


“The CORE Network is ultimately a testament of Florida’s ongoing commitment and determination to reduce the devastating impact that opioids are having on our children, our families, and our communities,” Harris said. “By working on our prevention and intervention efforts, we can take a holistic approach that supports our primary goal of building strong and resilient families.”