By FRANK LEWIS
PDT Staff Writer
Lisa Roberts, RN, of the Scioto County Drug Action Team was in Columbus on Monday and Tuesday for the Opiate Summit, hosted by Gov. John Kasich. On Monday, Kasich rolled out the new emergency room protocol for opiate prescribing, and on Tuesday, President Barack Obama’s drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske was the keynote speaker.
Roberts said she was pleased that Kasich called her to the front of the gathering to applaud the successes the Drug Action Team experienced in 2011, including the closing of all nine of the area’s pain clinics.
“He had me come up front and tell how well we had done, and that our (drug-related) death statistics fell 17 percent in one year,” Roberts said. “He didn’t even know that we were there, but when he talked, he started with Scioto County. He told about coming down here and meeting with us, seeing what he saw, and about SOLACE (Surviving our Losses And Continuing Everyday) at his swearing-in day.”
Meanwhile, Roberts says that while the Scioto County Drug Action Team will maintain its identity as a coalition, it will now benefit from the opportunities to coordinate with the other committees by joining with the new Scioto County Health Coalition, which will hold its organizational meeting May 11 from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. in the University Center building at Shawnee State University.
“I think it’s a really good idea,” Roberts said. “This drug problem is just so intertwined with other issues, like the economic problems like we have in Scioto County. And then that kind of leaves to the deterioration of the neighborhoods, it all kind of goes together to cause this terrible health problem that we have in our community. After all, we are in last place in the entire state of Ohio.”
An annual report, released recently by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, shows Scioto as one of Ohio’s unhealthiest counties. The study ranks every county in the United States on a state level based on health outcomes and factors. Scioto ranks 87th out of 88 counties for health outcomes and 88th for health factors. A University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations also released a life expectancy study of U.S. counties, which showed Scioto County men have the lowest life expectancy of anyone in Ohio.
“This super coalition will be all day, and so people will be able to be on more than one kind of committee if they want to be,” Roberts said. “They can be on the drug committee or on the economic development committee or the health care committee. It will give people the opportunity to become more involved if they want to. It will also link up people with a lot of different things to the coalition.”
Roberts said the schedule of the meetings will also be beneficial to SCDAT, since it has become more difficult in recent months to get people such as area physicians to make it to the Friday morning meetings.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com.