UCSOP Script Your Future & Medication Safety Radio Program Available for Download

In February and early-March the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy hosted a six-part Radio Blog Talk Series on Medication Safety and Adherence in partnership with Forest of the Rain Productions.

Script Your FutureThe programs were held every Wednesday from 8:30pm-9:30pm EST, February 1-March 8, 2017 and featured our students, faculty, staff and community partners. Information about medication adherence was shared in addition to discussion regarding our community efforts to promote medication safety education and training. 

Topics of discussion included:

  • February 1-Introduction to the Script Your Future Medication Adherence Challenge
  • February 8-Generation Rx: Prescription Safety Education in Partnership with Kanawha County Schools and the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy
  • February 15-Proper Medication Disposal
  • February 22-The Nationwide Drug Epidemic and the Role of Medication Adherence
  • March 1-Medication Adherence and Safety: Focus on DEA 360 Strategy
  • March 8-Disease Management and Medication Adherence

All shows were recorded for rebroadcast and can be access at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ptlsafemedicationuse

UCSOP Students Volunteer at Kanawha Charleston Health Department Harm Reduction Program

Contributed by: Grandee Dang, Class of 2019 ASCP Secretary 

Growing up within the inner-city communities of California, I was exposed to many of the social and economic problems that plagued the area. Drug addiction was one of the main reoccurring themes within the topic of discussions. Whether it was the “Just Say No” slogan broadcasted on our televisions or the “DARE” members congregating on the school grounds, the problem of drug abuse was always prevalent within my hometown of San Jose. The taboo nature of drug use bled into the community and unfortunately also dehumanized drug users. As a result, the terms “drug user” became associated with shaming and an overall sub community that have been labeled as “criminals” or hopeless addicts. However, as with any problem, there are two sides to the story. One of those is given to the general public and the vision that is often shared by those battling the drugs on the front lines.

During the week-long Thanksgiving break, my colleague, Alan Lam, and I were attracted to the idea of taking our time off to volunteer within the community. With the current opioid problem plaguing West Virginia, we became interested in learning more about educating ourselves about the opioid addiction and how we can better serve the community. Dr. Acree, an assistant professor and pharmacist at UCSOP,  had routinely volunteered at the Kanawha Health Department every Wednesday for the needle exchange. Intrigued, we both wanted to participate in the needle exchange along side with Dr. Acree.

“Just like the diverse community addiction affects, there is no singular solution to the problem, but the needle exchange program is a valuable asset in servicing these patients.”

The enriching experience illustrated that not all drug users are like the stereotypes that are often portrayed in the media. Many of the individuals who visited the clinic were not so different from those of the general population. They had jobs and families, but were stricken with the disease of addiction. During our visit we got to practice our empathy skills throughout our interactions with the patients at the clinic, as well. During the needle exchange, we realized that even though we cannot cure the disease of addiction or the influx of the opiate abuse, we can at least lower the spread of blood borne diseases associated with needle sharing. Just like the diverse community that addiction affects, there is no singular solution to the problem, but the needle exchange program is a valuable asset in servicing these patients. Upon observation, we realized that addiction could affect people of all ages from all socioeconomic backgrounds. In time we hope we could continue this program and perhaps expand it throughout areas where opiate abuse has uprooted the community. If these efforts save only one life or present the spread of blood borne disease to just one person, it is well worth the effort.

KCHD’s Harm Reduction Program

Beginning in December 2015 the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department opened its Harm Reduction Clinic with Syringe Exchange Program. The program is designed to reduce the number of shared and re-used needles in order to control the spread of Hepatitis. Through confidentiality the patients receive the assistance they need through the needle exchange, counseling, and the various testing options available.

The Kanawha-Charleston program does not run off of any state funding or grants and relies completely on donations and volunteers to keep up with its increasing number of weekly patients. Volunteers can assist nurses in preparing patient bags containing clean syringes, a container for used syringes, as well as other products used to administer safe injections, such as alcohol pads and cotton balls. Several UCSOP students and faculty volunteer each week and gain experience with patient interactions.

The Harm Reduction Clinic takes place every Wednesday from 10:00am until 3:00pm. Patients, who remain anonymous throughout the process, have the opportunity to consult with a rehabilitation and addiction counselors while in the waiting area. Each patient is given the opportunity to safely exchange used syringes for new ones, with the promise that the patient will return the next week for the same purpose. While at the health department patients have access to free testing for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV. Patients can also request to have a doctor access any injections sites for signs of infection. The program also offers contraceptives to women patients.

In addition to the screening and testing options available, patients are also encouraged to complete a short Naloxone training course. With the increased drug use also comes increased risk of overdose, and this training helps patients to better identify the signs of an overdose. Naloxone can be injected into someone who is experiencing an overdose in order to reverse the effects and potentially safe a life. The training takes place during the hours of the clinic an lasts approximately 30 minutes.  Patients walk away with a sample of Naloxone and the proper training to handle an overdose situation.

The Harm Reduction Clinic and Needle Exchange Program provide a safe place for patients to discuss their concerns and receive counseling. The Health Department also ensures the safety of its patients by keeping the identity of each patient anonymous and maintaining police presence. This program is fairly new it has already seen an increase in the number of weekly patients, and its services have already affected many patients. While the program centers on reducing the prevalence of diseases transmitted by sharing and re-using needles, the program has also aided many patients in drug detoxification and recovery programs.