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Lowell House Honors Efforts of Winward, Chemaly, White

March 23, 2019 GMT

LOWELL -- The unrelenting opioid crisis continues to destroy families across the region, but officials have seen progress over the last 18 months as the rate of overdose deaths have dropped in the community.

In the wake of this progress, Lowell House wanted to honor three local leaders who they say have made a real difference in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

At their fifth-annual gala on April 4 at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center, they’ll be honoring: Lowell Fire Chief Jeff Winward, Trinity EMS President John Chemaly and Lowell General Hospital/Circle Health CEO Jody White.


“Each, in their own right, has made a significant impact on this deadly crisis,” said Lowell House CEO Bill Garr.


Winward helped incorporate the Lowell Community Opioid Outreach Program (COOP) team that follows up with people who have recently overdosed in the city.

The fire chief has also worked on developing the SURGE early drug warning system in Lowell whenever there’s a spike in overdoses.

“We’re trying to attack this from a lot of different fronts,” Winward said.

He also highlighted the opioid task force formed by Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, as well as the mayor’s task force in Lowell. These partnerships and efforts are helping save lives, Winward said.

The fire chief added that getting honored by Lowell House means a lot.

“It’s a great honor,” Winward said. “We have a great group at the Fire Department doing the lifesaving work every day, and it’s great to be the leader of this organization.”


Chemaly’s work above and beyond his emergency medical services has created a state-of-the-art data tracking system for overdoses and deaths, delivering real-time data to police officers and firefighters.

In addition, Trinity EMS has provided staffing for the COOP team.

“We’re all a huge team,” Chemaly said of the different agencies across the area tackling this issue.

Every quarter, Trinity EMS reports overdose numbers to the city’s Board of Health.

Chemaly said the honor from Lowell House is special.

“This has nothing to do with John Chemaly. It has everything to do with our team here at Trinity,” he said.


Lowell General, under the direction of White, continues to develop specialized programs and services -- ones connected to the overtaxed emergency room, to make sure that individuals who overdose receive critical services.


Circle Health has also sponsored the new Healthy Eating and Nutrition Center at the new Lowell House Center for Integrated Treatment and Recovery.

“We are a central player in this battle,” White said, also pointing to their work in the maternity unit, with prescription monitoring and more.

The hospital hosts the Middlesex District Attorney’s Task Force meetings as well.

“I’m very honored to be one of the three folks recognized,” White said. “This is a huge issue for us.”

The gala on April 4 starts at 6 p.m.

Tickets for the gala cost $125 each. A table of 10 costs $1,000.

For more information about tickets, ads, sponsorships, in-kind gifts and donations, visit www.lowellhouseinc.org , email cwalton@lowellhouseinc.org , or call 978-459-8656, ext. 125.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.