OKC-County Health Dept. is a finalist for $5 million Bloomberg grant

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The OKC-County Health Department research shows cancer, heart disease and homicide death rates are down, but it isn't all good.

"We were making great improvements on health except for two areas and one of those areas revolves around unintentional deaths. When we drill down further on, we found out that it was drug overdoses,” said Executive Director Gary Cox.

And those that abuse drugs tend to go to jail more often.

"We put a lot of people in that system and a lot of people are there because of a mental health issue or a substance abuse or alcohol issue,” he said.

So, the department wants to create a database that would give low-level offenders community and health services to hopefully prevent them from going back into the system.

"The goal is to get them out of the correctional system and out of the jail, back in the community where they can be productive and keep their family together,” Cox said.

With the person's consent - police, public defenders and social services would have access to this information at all times so they can connect them with resources if they have an encounter.

"The more of that relevant information we have available, the more avenue we can have to keep them healthy."

Mayor Mick Cornett selected this idea out of several others to compete on the national level in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge.

Out of more than 350 applications, it's now a top 35 finalist in the nation for up to a $5 million grant.

"He wanted a proposal that was impactful. Had the opportunity to be impactful in our community," Cox said. "He wanted one that could really save lives, save taxpayer's money, save families."

A big idea they hope will have life-changing outcomes.

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