Saving Lives and Reducing Stigma – Lake Cumberland District Health Department

Saving Lives and Reducing Stigma – Lake Cumberland District Health Department


(somber music) – In rural America
and most especially in rural Kentucky,
the inappropriate use of controlled substances,
particularly opioids, has exploded. There are few if any families
that haven’t been impacted by some family member fallen
prey to opioid use disorder, and it’s impact both on
those individual families and on public
health is dramatic. – My Marine son overdosed
in November of 2015. I was at his funeral when I
had about 50 different people whisper in my ear that
they were struggling with the same issue
in their own home, people that I had no clue. I realized what a huge problem
we had in our community. – I’ve been affected
by opioid use disorder in every aspect of my life. I have lost my family members,
I’ve lost my child at times, I was in prison, I
lost my job, I’ve lost pretty much everything
I had at one time because of addiction. – Individuals who
are drug addicts tend to stay in the shadows. It’s not something that
you want your family and people around you to
know about necessarily. Oftentimes to get into
a treatment facility, the waiting lists are very
long and if you happen to not have insurance,
which a significant number of drug addicts wouldn’t have,
the expense is very great. – The importance of
the legal system, the public health system and
the private health system all working in unity to try to
move in a positive direction to solve this
problem is crucial. – In each of our ten
counties in our district, we’ve completed community
health assessments and without fail,
one of the top issues in all cases is drug abuse. Since it’s part of our mission
to try to prevent illness and promote health, we
want to address that. Since we don’t get a lot
of funding in that regard, we seek out grant funds. – The Rural Health
Opioid Program is a
grant-funded program that the Lake Cumberland
District Health Department was awarded to provide
education to community members, to substance users, and
to healthcare providers throughout our district. We will also be providing
some case management to inmates in the seven
local detention centers, we will be able to help
them get reestablished hopefully in their communities
by working with them and providing case
management services. – As we identified drug
problems as a major issue in our communities,
we started seeking out community partners to work with. The Drug Court seemed
like a logical place. There’s a tremendous number
of people who go through the legal system who
have drug-related issues. – The criminal justice
system is at the center of the storm that is this
national crisis right now. It’s also one of the
places where we can have the greatest impact in
trying to reduce the effects of some of those problems. As a result of contact
and a cooperative effort with the Health Department,
what we’re able to do is about every 90
days bring in a team from the Health Department,
who provides educational services to all those
who are involved in the drug court
setting and then, should those individuals
desire, they can undergo a confidential screening
for HIV and hepatitis C and if they should test
positive, then they’re steered towards additional
confirmation testing and appropriate treatment. Since October of last year,
we’ve had right around a hundred people who have
received the education provided by the
Health Department. – [Shawn] Another thing that’s
going on in our community to address the opioid issue is
the syringe exchange program. The goal is to get dirty
needles off the street. – Most people think
syringe exchange program is strictly to do with
needles and exchanging dirty for clean needles when
it’s actually so much more. It’s education to the
patients, it’s wound care, it’s also HIV and
hepatitis C testing, as well as referrals
for treatment options and referrals for
other services. – Another goal of the
RHOP grant is to provide community education. Stigma makes it more
difficult for people to feel comfortable going
to treatment or identifying as a drug user, so if
you can teach people to be a little more tolerant,
a little more supportive, that’s helpful. – We have a huge problem. It’s only going to get
better if we come together and say hey, we
have to stop this, we have to help people
get into treatment, we have to help, quit
looking at people negatively, we have to help them get jobs, we have to help them in
every aspect, every category. – Since Daris’s death, I
felt that it would make the biggest impact to
reach out to the children in our community. We actually speak with
the kids K through 12, we go in and we talk
about drug use and abuse, we talk the importance
of just that one time, and that no one ever
sets out to use a needle. The Lake Cumberland Health
Department is really backing up everything
that we have noticed being obstacles in our
communities with resources so they’ve really picked
it up and tried to fill in those gaps. – The RHOP will
start October 2017, and it’s a three-year
grant and it will end the end of September in 2020. – Our hopes as far as long-term
impact for the RHOP grant is to prevent people from
beginning using opioids, to support recovering
addicts out of jail, and to do screening. – This disease does
not discriminate. You may think that it
won’t happen to your child, because I was one
of those people, and it comes in like a whirlwind and the ending is never good. If you have someone who’s
suffering with addiction, we wanna help.

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