U.S. Legislators on Opioid Panel at Fairfield University
On Wednesday, August 17, Fairfield University hosted U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal for an Opioid Prescribers Panel Discussion on “Best Practices for Prescribers—What’s Working Now?” The event was co-sponsored by the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing & Health Studies and was held at the Dolan School of Business dining room.
Joining Senator Blumenthal on the panel to discuss opioid misuse in Connecticut, were U.S. Senator Chris Murphy and U.S. Representative Jim Himes, in addition to: Mary Ellen Savage, lead APRN at New Era Rehabilitation Center; Gregory Fils, APRN, Yale Spine Center, Pain Management; Lynn Madden MPA, President & CEO, APT Foundation; Dr. Bachaar Arnaout MD, Director of the Detoxification and Addiction Stabilization Service (DASS), Medical Director for the Psychosocial Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program (PRRTP), VA Connecticut Healthcare System and Dr. Henry Jacobs, MD, JD, from the Connecticut State Medical Society.
Representative Brenda Kupchick, Representative Laura Devlin and First Selectman Mike Tetreau were among attendees.
The issue of opioid misuse in the state of Connecticut has been a priority for Senator Blumenthal who opened the panel discussion: “We need a national call to action to address this. Opioid misuse has led to an epidemic—700 deaths in Connecticut in 2015. 700 individuals who perished as a result of the problem of overuse and over-prescription of opioids.” The Senator also said “Congress is failing at dealing with this public health crisis,” and “we need to bring a sense of urgency to this.” Blumenthal emphasized that effort is needed to bring together local, state and national resources including educating parents and doctors.
Congressman Jim Himes called the issue of opioid addiction “a national emergency,” referring to the annual loss of almost 30,000 American lives as a result of the opioid crisis. Senator Chris Murphy, who sits on the health and appropriations committee, referred to the lack of funding by Congress as “unconscionable when faced with an epidemic that is robbing the state of Connecticut hundreds of lives.”
Meredith Wallace Kazer, PhD, APRN, FAAN dean of the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing & Health Studies, spoke about managing pain safely and Fairfield’s commitment to educating nurses on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.
Director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Fairfield University, Susan Birge, highlighted Fairfield’s leadership and nationally recognized Collegiate Recovery Program which includes two recovery homes that offer individual and group therapy, clinical support services. Birge said, “We welcome those individuals who struggle with addiction and want to pair their recovery and education.” She also noted that public safety officers are trained to use Narcan and nurses are being trained, in the event of an overdose.
In his closing remarks Senator Blumenthal recognized Fairfield's program as providing a model for addressing these issues "head on" and with "honesty and integrity."