NEWS BLOG from UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Archive for July, 2016

Pitt Pharmacy Partnership Addresses Opioid Epidemic

Pitt PharmacyThe University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy announced a new partnership with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to address the opioid crisis in communities across the state. Opioid abuse is now the leading cause of death in Pennslyvania with about 300 lives lost each year.

“No group can solve this problem on their own, and no community is immune to this,” said Josh Shapiro, chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. “This is not a problem we can arrest our way out of. We have to work our way out of this through collaboration.”

The Pennsylvania Heroin Overdose Technical Assistance Center will conduct training sessions to teach county representatives how to identify sources of county-specific overdose data and teach them how to build a plan to address overdoses using evidence-based practices.

Eighteen counties are signed up for training so far this year. The goal of training is to help each community implement programs that will reduce overdoses. Many counties are also focusing on engaging and educating parents, children and schools about opioid addiction.

“Community based efforts in conjunction with law enforcement is the best way to make a positive impact,” said David Batiste of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In addition to training, counties are taking action to prevent overdoses by offering prescription drug take-back boxes, distributing Narcan kits, offering recovery support services, and placing certified recovery specialists in jails.

Medication assistant treatment is an excellent resource, according to Latika Davis-Jones, administrator for the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services at the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. She is working toward ending the stigma associated with medication as a form of treatment.

“We hope that one day every parent will have the opportunity to see their child live to their fullest potential, free from addiction,” said Dr. Jan Pringle, Ph.D., director at the Program Evaluation and Research Unit of Pitt pharmacy.

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Panel at UPMC Mercy focuses on burn education and prevention

press conf 2

Summer is popular for its fireworks and bonfires, but many summer activities pose an increased risk for burn injuries.

The UPMC Mercy Trauma and Burn Centers and UPMC Office of Prehospital Services recently offered tips for summertime fire safety and injury prevention during a panel-style press conference.

The main focus of the panel was burn education and prevention. The panel included Jenny Ziembicki, M.D., medical director of center; Lisa Epps, fire inspector and fire prevention officer from the City of Pittsburgh; Mark Pinchalk, paramedic coordinator from the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Emergency Medical Services; Matthew Brown, chief of emergency services at Allegheny County; and three previous burn patients.

Burns from fireworks, kitchen fires and outdoor fires can all cause harm, and around the Fourth of July, fireworks are in the spotlight.

“Burn injuries can be life-changing and devastating,” said Dr. Ziembicki. “It’s our job to show people what’s safe, and that’s not fireworks. We recommend alternatives such as glow sticks.”

Camp fires also pose significant risk.

Mary Arnold, a patient on the panel, spoke about her injuries after an accelerant was thrown on a campfire. She spent 44 days in the hospital and required multiple surgeries.

“The accelerant was in an unmarked bottle and three of us got burned,” she said. “The fire would have been fine without the accelerant.”

Gretchen McDaniel sustained injuries after a kitchen fire started by grease. In 2015, McDaniel underwent training to become a burn peer supporter for the Phoenix Society’s SOAR program at UPMC Mercy, and she continues to share her story to inspire other patients who have sustained burn injuries.

“You need to have a safety plan,” she said. “Fire extinguishers and smoke detectors are extremely important.”

A third patient, Diane Koerbel, also spoke about her experiences. In addition to burn injuries, she fractured her spine after jumping from her burning home, requiring comprehensive rehabilitation. (more…)

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