Murphy Speech, Ceremony Delivering $400,000 to the Sanford Hope and Healing Center
Good morning, everybody.
What a great day. I’m so happy to be here to present the Hope & Healing Center with $400,000 in federal funding so they can sustain and strengthen their life-saving work on behalf of folks struggling with opioid addiction.
I want to thank AdventHealth and the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office for partnering with each other, and with my congressional office, to make this day possible.
You know, before I get involved in any issue in Congress, I ask myself whether my efforts would be good for my country, would help my constituents, and would be consistent with my conscience.
When it comes to fighting the opioid epidemic, I can answer “yes” to each of these questions.
The number of our fellow citizens who have been affected by the opioid epidemic is truly staggering. In the last dozen years, over half a million Americans have died as a result of opioid overdoses. Countless others have had their lives destroyed or disrupted by opioids.
While certain groups are at a higher risk than others, the opioid epidemic does not discriminate on the basis of class, race, or gender. It impacts people across the entire spectrum.
We should never lose sight of the fact that, behind every abstract statistic, there is a very real and very personal tragedy. There is a shattered human life. There is a brokenhearted family. There is a distraught community. And there is a spiritually and economically diminished nation.
In Florida, opioid-related deaths have increased dramatically in recent years.
Unfortunately, here in Seminole County, we have one of the highest rates of opioid deaths in the state. Fortunately, we also have passionate people in health care, social work, and law enforcement who are determined to fight this epidemic in thoughtful and effective ways.
Because the opioid epidemic has taken such a terrible toll on our country and our Central Florida community, I’ve been working on this issue since I arrived in Congress.
I’ve taken a special interest in protecting babies born to mothers who used opioids during pregnancy. These babies are at risk of a condition called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome—and require special care. A few years ago, Congress passed a bipartisan bill I authored to provide funding to Florida and other states to ensure they have effective plans in place to care for these babies.
I’ve also been very focused on China’s role in America’s opioid crisis. About 6-in-10 opioid deaths involve a powerful synthetic opioid called fentanyl. China is the largest source of fentanyl in the United States, and we need to strengthen efforts to prevent fentanyl from getting across our borders and into our communities.
As a result of our shared interest in this subject, Sheriff Lemma and I have worked together on this issue for a number of years. I take pride in listening to and learning from my constituents, especially those with on-the-ground experience. They know what works and what doesn’t work. They’re focused on solving problems. That’s how I approach my own job—and I respect those who approach their jobs in the same spirit.
Several years ago, Sheriff Lemma briefed me on his SCORE initiative, which is a holistic approach to reducing opioid abuse and opioid deaths, with a heavy focus on prevention and treatment. I was impressed by this humane and creative effort. So I put Sheriff Lemma in touch with key folks in Congress, with the hope that other communities across the country might want to use Seminole County’s approach as a model for their own efforts.
One of the SCORE program’s key components is connecting overdose victims to detoxification and recovery programs, like the Hope & Healing Center.
So when AdventHealth and Sheriff Lemma approached my office, asking me whether I could work in Congress to get federal funds for the Center, I immediately got to work—and we were able to get it done.
With the new funding we secured, the Center will have more resources to accomplish their noble mission.
When those struggling with addiction get the help they need, our community and our country are uplifted.
It just goes to show you how much we can accomplish when we work together, when we put people over politics, and when we focus on delivering results.