Mile Bluff, SAFE team make a positive impact on Juneau County

In 2015, the Juneau County Substance Abuse Free Environment (SAFE) coalition was formed. It set out with a mission to improve the lives of children, youth and adults by empowering the community to help prevent and treat alcohol, tobacco and prescription drug abuse in Juneau County.

The coalition is made up of a diverse and engaged group of local leaders. The group works together to identify evidence-based strategies to reduce substance misuse. Coalition members include representatives from Public Health, the Sheriff’s Department, Human Services, Mauston High School and Mile Bluff Medical Center. The team carries out its mission by raising awareness, aiding in education, making resources available, and working to prevent misuse from occurring.

A top health concern for Juneau County is substance abuse. With its high opioid death rates and hospitalizations in 2017, the county was designated as a Tier 1 Priority High Need Region by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The coalition is looking to change that classification.
So far, the group has brought medication-assisted treatment to the region, provided free medication lock boxes to community members, and helped to train medication prescribers on the new CDC recommendations and policy for managing chronic pain with opioids.

The exceptional work of the group has not gone unnoticed. In fact, the coalition recently received a Drug Free Communities grant that will assist in continuing these efforts; and Mile Bluff was presented with the Community Engagement Award and grant by Quarles & Brady, LLP and the Rural Wisconsin Healthcare Cooperative. In addition, Mile Bluff’s Dr. Angie Gatzke-Plamann was recently honored by SAFE with the 2018 Outstanding Member Award.

The SAFE coalition members are seeing the positive impact their work is having; but they also recognize that there is a lot more work to be done. If you’d like more information on SAFE in Juneau County, or are interested in becoming involved with the group, contact Kelsey Skala at kskala@co.juneau.wi.us or 608-847-9276.