Overdose Fatality Review

The Overdose Fatality Review Knowledge Lab highlighted state policy and legislative activities related to the Model Overdose Fatality Review Teams Act.

Background Discussion

Learn more from experts about establishing county-level, multidisciplinary overdose fatality review teams to identify and respond to community-specific patterns related to drug overdose deaths.

Live Discussion

The live discussion occurred on August 17, 2023. Click here to listen in!

Supporting Materials

The Model Overdose Fatality Review (OFR) Teams Act was written in consultation with a host of subject matter experts and creates a legislative framework for establishing county-level, multidisciplinary OFR teams in individual states. While overdose deaths occur nationally, OFRs established at the local level allow for the identification of challenges unique to a local area. This Model Act addresses the duties, responsibilities, and composition of OFR teams in order for them to properly examine and understand the circumstances leading up to a fatal overdose. Click here to read the full Model Overdose Fatality Review Teams Act.

Click here for more information about OFR, including a map of jurisdictions that help OFRs effectively identify system gaps by having statewide legislation that expressly authorizes an OFR to obtain certain disclosure-protected information from state and/or local entities.

Featured Experts

Overdose Fatality Review (OFR)/Harm Reduction Manager, Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR)

Assistance Administrator – Overdose Fatality Review Coordinator, Drug Overdose Prevention Program

Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH)

Program Manager, Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office

Melissa Heinen RN, MPH

Melissa Heinen is a manager for the Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR). She is responsible for overseeing overdose fatality review and harm reduction training and technical assistance. She has more than 25 years of experience working in injury and violence epidemiology and prevention at the local, state, regional, and national levels.

Carina Havenstrite

Carina Havenstrite currently serves as the Director of Program Management for the Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, District Attorney’s Office. In this role, she led the development of the Lackawanna County Overdose Fatality Review (OFR) Team and oversees the implementation of recommendations generated by the team, as well as the pursuit and management of several other law enforcement and opioid-related grants. The Lackawanna County OFR Team has been reviewing cases for more than 2 years, has successfully implemented several recommendations, and will be acting as an OFR mentor site this year. Prior to her position with the District Attorney’s Office, Ms. Havenstrite spent six years working in the HIV field, which began her journey in public health, grant management, and implementation of innovative programming.

Heather (Seger) Coia, MSW, LICSW, QMHP

Heather Coia is a licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW) who serves as the State’s Overdose Fatality Review (OFR) Coordinator in the Drug Overdose Prevention Program at the Rhode Island Department of Health. Ms. Coia has been supporting the Rhode Island OFR Team since 2020 and provides a collaborative, strategic approach to ensuring the Team is impactful in driving public-health decision making amid the state’s overdose crisis. She has worked in the behavioral health field for more than 16 years with experience providing clinical services for adolescents and adults in residential programs, inpatient units, outpatient settings, emergency departments, police departments, and private practice. Ms. Coia assisted with Rhode Island’s recent addition to state OFR legislation that will ultimately permit implementation of a Family Outreach Project, a program that will provide bereavement support, resources, and an opportunity to learn from families that have experienced the loss of a loved one to an accidental fatal overdose. She completed Bachelor and Master of Social Work degrees at Rhode Island College.