In 2011 Washtenaw County saw 

29 opioid overdose deaths

In 2013 there were 46. The trend continued to accelerate.
In three years the number of deaths more than doubled.

2014 brought 

65 opioid overdose deaths

into our community.

In our own community and across the country opioid overdose deaths were reaching epidemic levels - in 2015 more people died of an opioid overdose than in car accidents.

The Washtenaw Health Initiative (WHI) Opioid Project intends to change that. We bring together community members, law enforcement, public health, hospitals, community mental health, treatment facilities, and other providers to end this epidemic.


We use the Project Lazarus model and believe that communities are ultimately responsible for their own health. The WHI Opioid Project and Project Lazarus believe that every drug overdose is preventable. Using experience, data, and compassion we strive to prevent drug overdoses and meet the needs of those living with chronic pain.


The success of the WHI Opioid Project depends on community knowledge, support, and involvement. In recent years the Opioid Project has seen many successes in the fight against the opioid overdose epidemic. For the first time in 5 years Washtenaw County saw a decrease in its overdose rate; in 2015 the number of overdoses dropped by 25 percent. However, in 2016 overdoses spiked again to 61.

There is still more to be done...

The WHI Opioid Project believes that 61 deaths is 61 too many. So The WHI Opioid Project is calling on the community for help. Every person has a part to play in ending this epidemic in Washtenaw County. Get involved, make a difference, and help Washtenaw discover change.


Email us using the Contact page for more information about getting involved in one of the WHI Opioid Project workgroups.

Opioid Project Workgoups

(modeled after the Project Lazarus):

  • Addiction and Treatment

  • Community Education

  • Provider Education

  • Hospital Emergency Department Policies

  • Diversion Control

  • Patient Pain Support

  • Harm Reduction

About the Washtenaw Health Initiative Opioid Project

Our Team
Marci Scalera, MSW
WHI Opioid Project Co-Chair

Director of Clinical and Substance Use Disorder Services

Community Mental Health Partnership of Southeast MI

Marci Scalera is the clinical and SUD director for the Community Mental Health Partnership of Southeast Michigan. Having seen opioid use and overdose deaths steadily increase over the past 10 years, she took action. Marci was instrumental in joining with the WHI to bring this important issue to the broader community. She has served as the WHI Opioid Project co-chair since its inception in 2013. 

Jimena Loveluck, MPH
WHI Opioid Project Co-Chair

Deputy Health Officer

Washtenaw County Health Department

Jimena Loveluck is the deputy health office for the Washtenaw County Health Department where she manages the design and implementation of policies, procedures and programs to promote the health of all Washtenaw County residents. Jimena has extensive public health experience and knowledge in health promotion, community engagement and fighting health disparities.

Carrie Rheingans, MPH, MSW

Washtenaw Health Initiative Project Manager 

Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation

Carrie Rheingans is the project manager for The Washtenaw Health Initiative which houses the WHI Opioid Project. The WHI is a voluntary, county-wide collaboration focused on how to improve access to coordinated care for the low-income, uninsured, and Medicaid populations. The effort includes representatives from the University of Michigan Health System, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, health plans, county government, community services, physicians, and safety net providers. More than 80 organizations and 200 individuals participate.

Molly Welch-Marahar, MPP
WHI Opioid Project Coordinator
Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation

Molly Welch Marahar is a researcher at the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation and the WHI Opioid Project coordinator. She has previously worked in substance abuse treatment as a counselor and recovery support. Molly now works with the Opioid Project to coordinate community based solutions to the various challenges brought about by the opioid epidemic. 

Gregory Powers, MPH
WHI Opioid Project Staffer
Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation

Gregory Powers is a researcher at the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation and a WHI Opioid Project staffer.


Ann Arbor Treatment Services

Need more details? Contact the Opioid Project

We are here to help people get involved in ending the opioid epidemic.

Want to find out more about treatment?

Washtenaw County's treatment facilities are can help you recover.

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