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

Archive for August, 2016

Pitt Pharmacy Holds Opioid Overdose Prevention Demonstration

As students arrived this week for the start of a new school year, nurses in the Pittsburgh Public Schools were prepared to combat the opioid epidemic. Experts from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, the Pittsburgh Poison Center and the Allegheny County Department of Health recently held a seminar on opioid overdose prevention for more than 50 nurses from across the school system.

Dr. Michael Zemaitis of the Pitt School of Pharmacy notes that the number of overdoses occurring nationally in the student population is rising. “The introduction to opiates often occurs at a fairly young age, and there is a disturbingly high number of overdoses that occur in middle and high school,” he said. “School nurses would be the frontline of defense against those overdoses.”

With the help of a patient simulator, the nurses gathered at Pittsburgh Carrick High School to learn the signs and symptoms of an overdose. They were also taught how to administer Narcan, the potentially life-saving drug that has the ability to reverse the chemical effects of an overdose. All high schools in the Pittsburgh Public Schools will be equipped with Narcan kits by the end of the calendar year.

Rae-Ann Green, director of health services for Pittsburgh Public Schools, said no opioid-related incidents have occurred in the district’s schools, but training nurses and stocking Narcan is a proactive step to keep students healthy.

 

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Pitt Studies How to Get Overdose Reversal Drug to People Who Need It

Dr. Mary Hawk, assistant professor of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, works with local needle exchange program Prevention Point Pittsburgh to fight the opioid epidemic. Together, they are working to get an overdose reversal drug into the hands of people most at risk of overdose.

Western Pennsylvania is in the midst of a drug overdose epidemic, prompting the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health to create a pilot grant project that funds several studies exploring different aspects of the problem.

This post is part of a blog series entitled “The Opioid Epidemic,” a collaboration between UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences highlighting the doctors, researchers and nurses making significant efforts to reduce diversion and misuse of prescription opioids. For more information about the series or resources to help with drug addiction, click here.   

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Pitt Researcher Uses Hospitalization Data to Determine Causes of Substance Abuse

Dr. Christina Mair, assistant professor of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, discusses how she plans to use hospitalization data from the last 15 years to research rates of abuse, overdose and dependence. The data will help her locate one high-risk region within two hours of Pitt’s campus, where she will conduct further research to get a full view of the problem from both the user and treatment perspective.

Western Pennsylvania is in the midst of a drug overdose epidemic, prompting Pitt Public Health to create a pilot grant project that funds several studies exploring different aspects of the problem.

This post is part of a blog series entitled “The Opioid Epidemic,” a collaboration between UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences highlighting the doctors, researchers and nurses making significant efforts to reduce diversion and misuse of prescription opioids. For more information about the series or resources to help with drug addiction, click here.

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Pitt Researchers Turn to Social Media in Fight Against Opioid Abuse

Social media could revolutionize how to care for those struggling with addiction.

Dr. Zan Dodson, researcher from the University of Pittsburgh Public Health Dynamics Laboratory, discusses how his team is looking at how social media can be used to identify geographical clusters of opioid and heroin abuse and overdose. The data they’re compiling will help create a map of opioid-use clusters, which will be shared with Pittsburgh officials to provide better care in those areas in an effort to prevent overdose-related deaths.

Western Pennsylvania is in the midst of a drug overdose epidemic, prompting the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health to create a pilot grant project that funds several studies exploring different aspects of the problem.

This post is part of a blog series entitled “The Opioid Epidemic,” a collaboration between UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences highlighting the doctors, researchers and nurses making significant efforts to reduce diversion and misuse of prescription opioids. For more information about the series or resources to help with drug addiction, click here.   

 

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HPV Vaccination Plan Garners Award from Jewish Healthcare Foundation

Thanks to their extraordinary efforts to increase the rate of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines administered in their office, the team at UPMC St. Margaret Bloomfield-Garfield Family Health Center (FHC) will receive a Special Recognition Award from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation 2016 Fine Awards.

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation has launched an initiative to increase the rate of HPV vaccination in the Pittsburgh region and dispel myths surrounding the vaccine. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. A vaccine is available, but optional, and it requires a series of three shots.

The FHC is receiving a $5,000 award for their “Sensational HPV Vaccination Trial,” a campaign to teach parents, children and adolescents about the importance of the vaccine and to increase the rate of HPV vaccines administered at their practice.

“Our family medicine staff, resident physicians and pharmacists have creatively worked together to give timely HPV vaccinations, immediate, fun notices and rewards and the achievable long-term rewards of health promotion, reduced genital warts and diminished cancer risk,” said Dr. Ann McGaffey, medical director of the FHC. “Our approach helps parents and youth understand the safety, efficacy, optimal time to vaccinate, and cancer reduction promise of the HPV vaccination series.”

Because the vaccine is optional, many patients don’t bother, or fail to receive, all three vaccine shots. Based on a focus group, only 33 percent of patients reported receiving or discussing the vaccine with parents or doctors. A couple of the ways FHC staff are reversing this trend include staff members wearing T-shirts encouraging vaccinations on HPV Fridays, and waiting room signage that features a poster contest called “Guarding Your Health with HPV Vaccine.” Additionally, Nicole Payette, Pharm.D., discovered that record reviews and text message reminders about when the next shot is due helped ensure adolescents not only received the vaccine, but completed the full sequence of shots.

Furthermore, they found that sensory rewards would help motivate patients to complete the vaccine sequence. Rewards such as ringing a gong, chewing gum, LED-bling rings, or playing with putty are offered to all HPV vaccine recipients. Occasionally, Trish Klatt, Pharm.D., brings in her therapy and HPV prevention dog, Max, to play with children receiving the vaccine.

The efforts at the FHC have helped more teens in the Pittsburgh area receive the vaccine. Not only have they seen an increase in how many patients receive the vaccine, they also surpassed their vaccination rate goal.

Dr. McGaffey and her team will be presented with the $5,000 award on Aug. 29 at the Centre City Tower.

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