UM Shore Re­gional Health sup­ports Pur­ple cam­paign

Kent County News - - NEWS - By CHRISTINA ACOSTA ca­costa@ches­pub.com

EAS­TON — 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 UM 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 Shore Re­gional Health emer­gency de­part­ments in Chestertown, Cam­bridge, Eas­ton and Queenstown for heroin and opi­ate poi­son­ing more than dou­bled, from 90 to 187. These poi­son­ings were caused by over­dose of heroin, methadone, opi­ates and opium.

“Ever since I have been work­ing on emer­gency de­part­ments, it’s al­ways been present for us,” said Dr. David Za­mara, of UM Shore Med­i­cal Cen­ter at Chestertown. “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.

The Mary­land De­part­ment of Health re­ported 2,282 drug and al­co­hol-re­lated in­tox­i­ca­tion deaths in 2017, 2,009 of which were opi­oid re­lated. In the first three months of 2018, there were 653 un­in­ten­tional drug- and al­co­hol-re­lated in­tox­i­ca­tion deaths in the state, 579 of which were opi­oid re­lated.

“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,” Za­mara said.

UM 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. It led by Dr. Wal­ter Atha, re­gional di­rec­tor of emer­gency medicine for the health sys­tem, 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 and 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 longterm sup­port.

“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.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.umms. org/shore.

Jack Rodgers and Dustin Holt con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle.

PHOTO BY JACK RODGERS

Staff of Univer­sity Shore Med­i­cal Cen­ter at Chestertown pose in pur­ple Fri­day in sup­port of the Kent Goes Pur­ple cam­paign to spread aware­ness for opi­oid ad­dic­tion preven­tion in the area.

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