March 11, 2015

Partnering to Save Lives in Haywood County

Haywood Healthcare Foundation chairs meeting with law enforcement

HHF board members, Joan Barnes and Ginger Lang meet with Haywood County law enforcement.

The Haywood Healthcare Foundation has made it a mission to support a healthier Haywood County. Previously, the Foundation purchased prescription drug safes which allow safe storage of both prescription and over-the-counter medications. These drug safes are distributed through several county agencies.

Currently the Foundation is working to:

  1. Purchase Narcan nasal spray which immediately reverses drug overdoses from opioid prescription drugs, such as Vicodin, Oxycodone and Percoset, as well as from heroin.
  2. Purchase blister packs of acetaminophen and ibuprofen to be distributed to physicians through the Drug Abuse Coalition, encouraging physicians to reduce opioid pain medication prescriptions, replacing them with blister packs.
  3. Purchase AEDs (automated external defibrillators) to be placed in law enforcement vehicles in Haywood County.

In an effort to combat a significant prescription drug issue in Haywood County, the Haywood Healthcare Foundation has partnered with Haywood County Sheriff’s Department municipal law enforcement agencies, Haywood County Health Department and Healthy Haywood in a Drug Abuse Coalition.

The statistics on prescription drug overdose and death are alarming. Consider the following statistics released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

  • Nearly 1 in 5 teens has tried a prescription drug to get high
  • 2 in 5 teens agree that Rx drugs, even if not prescribed by a doctor, are “much safer” than illegal drugs
  • Nearly 31% of teens believe there’s “nothing wrong” with using Rx medications “once in a while”
  • Nearly 3 out of 10 teens believe prescription pain relievers are not addictive
  • Every day 2,500 kids age 12 to 17 try a pain killer for the first time
  • Opioid analgesic ER visits increased 117% over the last decade, and the death rate surpassed that of heroine and cocaine
  • It has been shown that most teens and young adults who use prescription opiates begin their use with pills they’ve found in medicine cabinets at home

Haywood County is experiencing a major prescription drug abuse epidemic. It is reported that 1 in 4 investigated deaths in Haywood County is related to prescription drug abuse. The most commonly abused prescription drugs are opiates (painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, or codeine, depressants (Valium, Xanax, etc.) and stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin, etc.).

To assist in combating this dangerous epidemic, Haywood Healthcare Foundation is working with law enforcement to purchase Narcan nasal spray and blister packs of acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

Narcan nasal spray has been show to immediately reverse drug overdoses from opioid prescription drugs, such as Vicodin, Oxycodone and Percoset, as well as from heroin. Presciption drug overdoses often occur in children and youth who have access to unsecured drugs and from adults and seniors who accidentally mix drugs. Narcan will be carried in Haywood County patrol cars and will be used to help save the lives of individuals who have overdosed on prescription drugs.

The blister packs will be used in place of opioids for pain relief. When taken together, acetaminophen and ibuprofen can provide powerful relief from pain without introducing more prescription drugs into the bloodstream. Haywood County law enforcement is working with local physicians to reduce the number of opioid prescriptions, replacing them with blister packs, providing an alternative for pain relief.

HHF is also purchasing AEDs to be placed in law enforcement vehicles. Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. According to the American Red Cross, an AED is the only effective treatment for restoring a regular heart rhythm. After three to five minutes in cardiac arrest, irreversible brain damage may begin to occur. For every minute that a person in cardiac arrest goes without being treated by a defibrillator, the chance of survival decreases rapidly decreases. Law enforcement vehicles often arrive on scene before emergency vehicles, so the purchase of AEDs will help save the lives of individuals experiencing cardiac arrest.

The Foundation will be hosting Casino Royale Night, an exciting fundraising event at Maggie Valley Country Club on May 16 at 6:00 pm. Proceeds from this benefit will go toward the purchase of Narcan nasal spray, acetaminophen/ibuprofen blister packs and AEDs. We would love to see you join us to support these important causes.