Myrtle Beach hires first coordinator to tackle city’s opioid crisis

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 7:16 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2022 at 6:30 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The City of Myrtle Beach has its first Opioid Program Coordinator to help tackle the opioid crisis in the city.

Michelle Smith is the City of Myrtle Beach’s first Opioid Program Coordinator.

Originally from Bethel, Connecticut, Smith moved to the area in 2004 and graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a major in Sociology, a concentration in Criminology and received the Sociology Department’s Outstanding Student Achievement award for 2011-2012.

“I mean I’ve just always wanted to help people. It’s been my driving factor. Whether it was, picking my college degree, to choosing a career, anything like that,” said Smith.

Smith spent almost a decade in the Horry County Solicitor’s Intervention Programs, serving most recently as the Senior Case Manager for the Pre-Trial Intervention Program.

“I have always had a deep desire to help people within my community,” said Smith. “When the Opioid Program Coordinator position became available, I felt as though this change in career was my calling and this was my opportunity to make an incredible impact on our community. As with most people, I am not one who likes change but could not ignore this opportunity. I am thrilled to be able to serve my community through a position that holds such immense potential.”

According to the City of Myrtle Beach, the Opioid Program Manager will create a bridge for non-profit and private organizations to work together and help those who are suffering from addiction.

The Opioid Program Coordinator position was created within Myrtle Beach as part of the Opioid Settlement Agreement earlier this year.

According to Horry County Coroner Robert Edge, his office sees three to four overdose deaths a week.

The Coordinator position is within the Myrtle Beach Fire Department. Captain Jon Evans with MBFD says they have been working on this program for a while.

Smith will eventually hire two more people to join her team as part of Myrtle Beach’s new Opioid Program.

“We will be a multi-faceted response team, each having specific areas of expertise and roles. My vision is for us to battle the opioid epidemic within the Myrtle Beach community through preventative outreach initiatives as well as emergency response to individuals with opioid use disorder in crisis. We will provide empathetic and therapeutic support through community engagement of resources to encourage and facilitate recovery,” she said.

Smith lives in the Grand Strand with her husband and two children, Luke and Nora. The family also has a sugar glider named Luna.

“The fact that this job opportunity came about it’s not just a job, it’s a career. I’m just really excited to help the community as a whole and try to do as much good as we possibly can between my team and myself,” said Smith.