Confronting opioid addiction & abuse

  • UMES to host free strategy clinic April 29

    Friday, April 14, 2017
    A free informational clinic to fight drug abuse

    Lower Delmarva residents who know someone struggling with opioid use can get answers to their questions Saturday, April 29 at a free information-exchange clinic sponsored by the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

    Students in UMES' School of Pharmacy & Health Professions have organized workshops and training in the use of a rapid antidote to help an overdose victim. Those completing the 30-to-40 minute hands-on instruction will receive free Narcan™ nasal spray to administer in an opioid rescue. 

    In addition to front-line health care practitioners sharing their advice, UMES students have arranged for those attending to receive a free breakfast and lunch as well as childcare services. 

    “Just come,” said Dr. James Bresette, a pharmacy professor advising student-organizers, “We want to help our neighbors help our communities.” 

    The event starts at 8 a.m. in UMES' Student Services Center, followed by breakfast at 9 a.m. The mother of Paul Montalvo, a UMES graduate student who died a year ago from an opioid overdose, will be among those offering remarks at the start of the event. 

    “Julie Montalvo is a brave woman,” said Dr. Rondell Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy & Health Professions. , “She has committed herself to trying to help others avoid what she and her husband have experienced.” 

    Student-organizers recommend people interested in attending pre-register at https://soaar.typeform.com/to/jXowGk so they can plan accordingly. 

    They've dubbed the event “Substance & Opioid Abuse Awareness Response” - S.O.A.A.R., an acronym inspired by the university's mascot, a red-tailed hawk. 

    Among local experts conducting workshops, which will be held concurrently and throughout the morning, are: 2013 UMES alumnus Donald D'Aquila, a clinical pharmacist with Shore Regional Health (University of Maryland Medical System), Tyantha Randall of Hudson Health Services and William Johnson, a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. 

    Scott Baker, a second-year pharmacy student from Snow Hill, said he and classmates wanted to provide the community with a public service project that “would make a true difference in people's lives.” 

    “Opioid abuse is in the news everywhere you turn,” Baker said. “It's a serious problem that we know is out there. As medication experts and stewards, pharmacists have a professional and moral imperative to help lead this charge.” 

    The morning workshops are scheduled so participants can take in several before lunch featuring a panel discussion. 

    Among the panelists will be Debbie Wessels, an educator who lost her 23-year-old son Mac to an opioid overdose, then shared her heartbreaking story in a Salisbury Independent newspaper article published Feb. 9.

    Bresette said the Narcan™ training is a key component to the day's activities. 

    “An overdose can have catastrophic effects very rapidly,” he said. “Often-times emergency responders cannot get to a victim quickly enough. Equipping our community members with the means and skill to render aid in a suspected opioid overdose is a vital first step in this fight to save lives.” 

    Student-organizers say they are motivated by a slogan they crafted for the event: “Rise Above - S.O.A.A.R. Above.”