Tampa Bay Partnership to launch opioid research project Friday with state Surgeon General

More than 1,200 individuals died from opioid complications in Tampa Bay in 2020 according to early estimates.

The Tampa Bay Partnership, in collaboration with Florida Blue and Project Opioid, is launching a new initiative Friday to combat the opioid epidemic.

The launch of Project Opioid Tampa Bay will host leaders from across the region and state to develop and execute strategies to reduce opioid deaths.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was originally promoted as a speaker, will not be attending the event, instead sending Florida’s Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees. The governor’s spokesperson, Christina Pushaw, said DeSantis had not previously confirmed his attendance.

According to the Partnership, The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased opioid abuse across the region. Early estimates show more than 1,200 individuals died from opioid complications in Tampa Bay in 2020 — a 36% increase since 2019.

Pat Geraghty, president and CEO of GuideWell, will also attend the virtual launch to discuss what the opioid epidemic looks like in the state and locally. The event will also host expert panelists, regional leaders, and individuals impacted by this epidemic.

Project Opioid Tampa Bay aims to substantially reduce opioid overdoses and overdose deaths by the end of 2025.

At the launch, the Tampa Bay Partnership will share its takeaways from its preliminary assessment of the opioid crisis in the area, highlighted in the report: The Pandemic within the Epidemic: Tampa Bay’s Opioid Crisis. The report provides data and predictions on just how much the pandemic has affected opioid usage.

Leaders from across the state are expected to discuss the impacts of the opioid epidemic, as well as the statewide efforts to reduce overdose, death and addiction. Researchers will provide information on best practices across multiple sectors and discuss methods to reduce addiction and death. 

The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a networking opportunity, and the launch will start at 9 a.m.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


  • Jesslyn Ostrosky

    May 16, 2021 at 10:08 am

    I highly doubt that in the Tampa Bay area that opioids were the cause of death by OD. This area is highly known for hard drugs like fentanyl laced heroine, crack cocaine, methamphetamines. If y’all are going to report something make sure you report it correctly bc these street drugs are laced with opiods & opioids are the cause of OD’s it’s the illicit drugs heroine, crack cocaine, methamphetamines that are being “cut” with these drugs to make more of the drug so it can be sold on the streets. Why the government is blaming opioids is the main cause of these people’s OD’s is a lie!! I’m a pain patient who has broken their back & still has a compression fracture at L3-L4 who takes my meds as prescribed. NEVER have I failed a urinalysis drug screen in the 8 years I’ve been in pain management. But to make people suffer with lies like is ridiculous!! My daughter broke her ankle & Tylenol was told would be ok for her pain. It didn’t even touch the pain. My friend had a full hysterectomy & they told her Tylenol would help with the pain. NO! She went to the ER bleeding on the inside in major pain & was then given morphine as her pain level was so bad. Giving patient’s pain meds for 5 days is not a bad thing. I had foot surgery & after the 3rd-4th day I didn’t need pai. Meds anymore. It’s the initial pain that’s the worst. Stop punishing people who are following the rules!!

    • Ann C

      May 17, 2021 at 12:38 am

      Great comment. This is 100% true. MOST people, by far, take opioids only when needed and only as prescribed. Punishing all of us for the actions of a few is wrong and it’s causing suffering that nobody is acknowledging. First, do no harm!!

  • Lori Thomas

    May 16, 2021 at 11:08 am

    I was able to care for my self while on opiod medication for 15 years. Never any problems. Passed every test. I have been without them since Jan. 2019. My health and quality of life has gone downhill. I can no longer do any activities that other healthy people can do everyday. There never was a prescription opiod problem. People using illegal drugs with unknown doses if fentyl in them are what is driving up the deaths and also suicides from people who now have untreated pain. I will not have any surgery unless I am dying because the hospitals just want to give you Tylenol. Most people now have been using Tylenol since they were toddler’s and it barely works on a mild headache and that’s what they give you now for major surgery pain. It is barbaric! The laws in states have all changed and still people are dying from opiods. It’s because the government went after the pain patients instead of the cartels who are pouring through our borders now. And the OD rates will increase more. Prohibition has never worked. Get the government out of our doctkr/patient relationships. All of you are one illness or one accident away from being like me. You have made it hell on earth for intractable pain patients.

    • Lisa

      May 16, 2021 at 11:48 am

      Thank you for this comment! It’s completely true! Many are being neglected due to false reports

  • Rhea

    May 16, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    This is a topic that is so wrong and needs to be changed to what the truth is instead of fabricated information. The war is on the illicit drugs crossing our border. Those drugs are being added to other illicit drugs and eBay pill stamping presses to look like name brand or generic pain medication. The population of chronic pain patients have been responsible for their own management allowing them a quality of life with their families and their jobs. Chronic pain patients are not looking for a drug high. Addicts will buy off the street, steal from anyone and do anything to find the next high. Our vets are killing themselves daily. This reality and truth needs to be addressed not the false information being spewed by men who have no real experience with chronic pain patients, like Andrew Kolodny.

  • Michelle

    May 17, 2021 at 3:06 am

    Please educate yourselves. I pray that our governor realizes that “opioid” overdoses are almost 100% illicit drugs. People with chronic pain are seriously negativity effected by the “opioid” umbrella. Prescription pain medication shouldn’t be in the same grouping as illegal street drugs. It confuses people and causes harm and suffering. It’s beyond time to separate addicts and legitimate chronic pain patients. It’s beyond time to separate prescription pain medication from illicit street drugs. It’s beyond time to stop the civilian and veteran chronic pain patient genocide.

  • Concerned Nurse

    May 18, 2021 at 1:11 am

    Pain patients, cancer patients and our Veterans are losing their ability to
    function from forced tapering down or off their pain medication.

    The false narrative that “opioids/pain medication” are the driving force in overdoses continues to cause serious harm & even death. This is happening to chronic pain patients and those with acute injuries & surgeries/postop.

    Approx 85% of the OD’s are from illegal street drugs ie heroin, methamphetamines, cocaine & the biggest drug is counterfeit Illegally manufactured Fentanyl IMF. IMF doesn’t come from the hospitals or pharmacies, it’s made Illegally in labs & basements. It’s why it’s so dangerous.

    Project Opioid Tampa Bay, Gov DeSantis & the media needs to address this correctly to stop the opioid epidemic. Pretending the problem is something it’s not & continueing the biases against those suffering from pain isn’t helping anybody. It surely isn’t slowing or stopping overdoses so let’s end this charade once and for all.

    • Concerned Nurse

      May 18, 2021 at 2:36 am

      I forgot to include The Tampa Bay Partnership and all those connected ie Florida Blue & Pat Geraghty, president and CEO of GuideWell etc

  • Concerned Nurse

    May 18, 2021 at 1:54 am

    Kelly Hayes -All acute & chronic pain patients can really use your & your fellow journalists help by using more accurate terminology. Instead of blanket terms like “opioids” please make sure your readers are aware the high majority of illegal drugs are NOT coming from doctors & doctor offices.

    It would also help if the media didn’t use pictures of pill bottles/pain medication etc. Instead, accurately address the issues at hand by using pics of the illegal street drugs/counterfeit Illegal Manufactured Fentanyl / IV drug use or paraphernalia. These are the real drugs driving the opioid epidemic & overdoses.

    All this would tremendously help end the stigma against pain patients and move towards getting those suffering with addiction more help.

  • Kimmersjw

    May 29, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    Please follow up with an article about what drugs are really killing people as opposed to what medications are helping those who need it. Those chronic pain patients who take their medications as directed without any issues are being punished and denied their meds. When did this become fair? When did it become ok to treat those who abide by the law like criminals? When did it become ok to be mixed in with drug addicts when pain patients were just trying to survive? Please get in touch with those who do the right thing, but are being treated unfairly. We need help to getting the word out that pain patients are not criminals nor drug addicts.

Comments are closed.


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