UM SRH sup­ports pur­ple cam­paign

Dorchester Star - - NEWS - By CHRISTINA ACOSTA ca­costa@ches­

EASTON — The Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land Shore Re­gional Health team mem­bers wore pur­ple Fri­day af­ter­noon, Sept. 21, to show their sup­port for the month-long ob­ser­vance of Shore Health Goes Pur­ple.

Team mem­bers in Tal­bot, Caro­line, Dorch­ester, Kent and Queen Anne’s coun­ties par­tic­i­pated. They wore pur­ple and posed for pho­tos in front of the health sys­tem’s three hos­pi­tals — Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land Shore med­i­cal cen­ters at Easton, Ch­ester­town and Dorch­ester.

“Hav­ing the re­gion’s health care sys­tem show strong sup­port for our ef­forts to re­duce deaths and ad­dic­tions as­so­ci­ated with opi­oid abuse is so im­por­tant to me,” said Ken Kozel, CEO of Shore Re­gional Health. “We see the ef­fects ev­ery day and will con­tinue to work hard to demon­strate our sup­port and play an ac­tive role in our com­mu­nity’s ef­forts to at­tack this cri­sis.”

Dur­ing the three-year pe­riod 2014-2016, vis­its to UM SRH emer­gency de­part­ments (Ch­ester­town, Dorch­ester, Easton and Queen­stown) for heroin/opi­ate poi­son­ing more than dou­bled, from 90 to 187. These poi­son­ings were caused by over­dose of heroin, methadone, opi­ates and opium.

Ac­cord­ing to the Mary­land De­part­ment of Health, there were 2,282 drug and al­co­hol­re­lated in­tox­i­ca­tion deaths in Mary­land in 2017, and 2,009 of those were opi­oid-re­lated. Pre­lim­i­nary data from the first three months of 2018 in­di­cate there were 653 un­in­ten­tional drug- and al­co­hol-re­lated in­tox­i­ca­tion deaths in Mary­land. There were 579 opi­oid-re­lated deaths, 500 of which in­volved fen­tanyl.

“Ever since I have been work­ing on emer­gency de­part­ments, it’s al­ways been present for us,” said UM Shore Med­i­cal Cen­ter at Ch­ester­town ER Dr. David Za­mara. “From 15 years ago, we were see­ing heroin over­doses in the emer­gency de­part­ment. To be hon­est, we’ve been see­ing more peo­ple, and it has been get­ting worse.

“Opi­oid ad­dic­tion is ev­ery fam­ily of ev­ery race, of ev­ery so­cioe­co­nomic sta­tus. It’s no longer some­one you don’t know; now it is your brother, sis­ters, mother or fa­ther. Be­ing aware of it is im­por­tant.”

The Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land Shore Re­gional Health has con­vened a re­gional opi­oid task force that in­cludes rep­re­sen­ta­tives of county health de­part­ments and emer­gency ser­vices, emer­gency and be­hav­ioral health physi­cians, and nurses and hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials. The force is led by Dr. Wal­ter Atha, re­gional di­rec­tor of emer­gency medicine for UM SRH, and Roger Har­rell, Dorch­ester County health of­fi­cer.

The Re­gional Opi­oid Task Force was formed to co­or­di­nate and stan­dard­ize the med­i­cal com­mu­nity re­sponses to the ris­ing in­ci­dence of opi­oid and heroin over­dose in Caro­line, Dorch­ester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Tal­bot coun­ties.

The task force has 35 mem­bers and be­gan meet­ing in June 2017. It is ad­dress­ing a num­ber of is­sues, in­clud­ing im­prov­ing the opi­oid/ heroin over­dose re­sponse process in emer­gency care set­tings in a way that will sup­port the like­li­hood of over­dose pa­tients’ ac­cept­ing treat­ment for their ad­dic­tion; iden­ti­fy­ing and im­ple­ment­ing strate­gies to im­prove the like­li­hood of pa­tients’ suc­cess­ful re­fer­ral to treat­ment; in­volv­ing law en­force­ment in the process at the health care level; and shar­ing the data needed to as­sess opi­oid and heroin over­dose trends and out­comes of EMS and hos­pi­tal re­sponses to over­dose.

The task force also is re­view­ing the con­tin­uum of care for post-over­dose pa­tients, from emer­gency care to detox and long-term sup­port.

The Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land Shore Re­gional Health also would like for the com­mu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in pur­ple events, in­clud­ing two free screen­ings of the film “If Only,” pre­sented by the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foun­da­tion and Mil­len­nium Health. The short film aims to raise aware­ness about the dan­gers of teen pre­scrip­tion drug mis­use and abuse.

Screen­ings are set for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at Easton High School and 6:30 p.m. Sept. 26 at St. Michaels Mid­dle High School. Each event will in­clude an in­for­ma­tion re­source fair at 5:30 p.m.

“Treat­ment works and peo­ple re­cover,” said Tra­cie Nolan at Shore Be­hav­ioral Health in Cam­bridge. “We can help peo­ple. We see peo­ple re­cover. That is the road we help peo­ple get to.”

More in­for­ma­tion is avail­able at www. tal­bot­goe­spur­, Face­book un­der @ Tal­bot Goes Pur­ple or through email at tal­bot­goe­spur­ For more in­for­ma­tion, visit

Jack Rodgers and Dustin Holt con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle.


Staff at Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land Med­i­cal Cen­ter at Dorch­ester in Cam­bridge wear pur­ple in sup­port of Shore Health Goes Pur­ple Fri­day, Sept. 21.

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