For Immediate Release
Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Great Barrington Recognized for Efforts to Combat Opioid Crisis
GREAT BARRINGTON — The Town of Great Barrington was recognized at a Selectboard meeting on Sept. 12 for its leading role in addressing the opioid crisis, specifically the Board of Health and the Great Barrington Police Department, who are working together with several local coalitions and Fairview Hospital to combat addiction and provide resources for those who are struggling with this disease in the Southern Berkshire community.
The Great Barrington Police and Health Departments are both founding members of the Fairview/GB Opioid Task Force, along with Fairview Hospital, the Railroad Street Youth Project (RSYP), the Berkshire Opioid Abuse Prevention Coalition (BOAPC) and Board of Selectman Member Stephen Bannon, who is also a pharmacist for Fairview Hospital. Originally formed to research and write grants to obtain Narcan for first responders, task force members quickly realized the potential for the group to make a significant impact in addressing addiction in the community through its ability to propose and set policy.
The Fairview/GB Opioid Task Force is currently working on two fronts:
Safe Prescription Conversation Guide
This easy to use bi-fold pamphlet is aimed at facilitating conversations between doctors and patients whenever a potentially addictive medication is prescribed. The guide is meant to provide patients with information that a substance has the potential to be addictive, a plan for starting and stopping use and a list of prescription disposal locations. Prescription drug disposal boxes are located at many police departments in Southern Berkshire County, including the Great Barrington Police Department lobby.
The Fairview/GB Opioid Task Force anticipates that the first round of the pamphlets will be completed sometime this month, and will be piloted by two local doctors before being distributed to a larger audience of prescribers for use.
MassPAT PMP Training
Last month, Massachusetts implemented a new Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) platform called MassPAT, which is a program that allows prescribers to track their patient’s prescriptions both within and outside of Massachusetts and flag potential patterns of abuse.
The Fairview/GB Opioid Task Force is in the process of scheduling a training for prescribers and their delegates in late October or early November. The training will touch on the basics of how to use the new PMP system, how to interpret the data provided by the program, and how to both identify and respond to red flags of substance abuse.
“The Town of Great Barrington has been, and will continue to be, a leader in substance abuse prevention,” Town Manager Tabakin said. “I am proud of all that our community has done thus far to combat this crisis, but there is certainly more work to do. Through the numerous initiatives in place, I am hopeful that we can make a positive impact on those in our community who are suffering from the disease of addiction.”
Along with the Fairview/GB Opioid Task Force, there are a number of other organizations that Great Barrington is working with to combat the region’s opioid epidemic. Great Barrington Police and Health Departments have both been active in the Southern Berkshire Prevention Coalition, which focuses on identifying and addressing substance use and abuse among youth. A Great Barrington police officer regularly attends and participates in meetings of a group called, “Discussing Our Personal Experiences” (DOPE), in order to continue the conversation around opioid addiction in Southern Berkshire County.
Great Barrington also participates in the South County Child and Family Wellness Coalition, a program spearheaded by the Berkshire Hills Regional School District that focuses on how to better support children and families who have a loved one suffering from addiction. The group is made up of school representatives, therapists, members from Fairview Hospital, law enforcement, health departments, the Department of Children and Families, the Brien Center and others.
Great Barrington’s Heath Agent, Jayne Smith, recently represented the Town at a Health Caravan meeting this morning at Community Health Programs. The Health Caravan is a collection of health organizations active in Berkshire County that meets every other month to focus on issues impacting health and share their respective projects in Southern Berkshire County. Smith facilitated for Jennifer Kimball, from the Berkshire Opioid Abuse Prevention Coalition (BOAPC) to be a guest speaker at the event. The topic spurred a productive conversation that included a strong emphasis on the need for treatment options in Southern Berkshire County.
The Great Barrington Fire Department carries Narcan and the Great Barrington Police Department expects to start carrying this lifesaving overdose reversal drug soon.