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Health Department offers training on Narcan, opioid use in Winchester

The Board of Health on Jan. 22 held a presentation at the Winchester Public Library to train residents in the usage of Narcan during an opioid overdose. COURTESY PHOTO

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Opioids in any form are highly addictive drugs. They come in prescription form, like oxycodone after dental surgery, while others are obtained illegally, like heroin or fentanyl.

Opioid abuse is a disease, formally called Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), and it affects people in communities across our country. Winchester is no exception. These are our neighbors, our friends and not infrequently members of our families.

One Winchester resident has said that following knee surgery he was put on an opioid pain killer and was not informed of the highly addictive nature of this drug; compounding recovery from the surgery he now had to contend with sharp stabbing stomach pain, nausea and other symptoms each time he tried to withdraw from the prescription.

 A presentation of best practices to aid someone suffering from an opioid overdose was held at the Winchester Library on Jan. 22.

Naloxone (commonly called Narcan) training was held by Public Health Nurse Karen DaCampo for the Winchester Health Department as part of a free community event called, “Mental Health Meet and Greet.”

The event was offered by the Winchester Coalition for a Safer Community, led by Dot Butler, community health program manager of the Health Department.

The event featured a hands-on Naloxone nasal spray training and free kits containing naloxone, fentanyl test strips, instructions, gloves and more were offered to the public. Importantly, the kits also contain resources for help with substance use disorder.

These kits are currently available for free at the Health Department at Town Hall. Naloxone/Narcan is also available at local pharmacies and is largely covered by health insurance or for a fee.

DaCampo stressed that, “Timely administration of Narcan saves lives.”

A slide used in the presentation by Public Health Nurse Karen DaCampo during her training on Narcan usage for an opioid overdose on Jan. 22. COURTESY PHOTO/BOARD OF HEALTH

Jennifer Murphy, MPH, Winchester’s Public Health director, would like the community to know that, “The Health Department offers frequent talks about how to administer Narcan safely, and staff are available on request to speak to the public about this issue.”

Ruth Trimarchi, chair of the Board of Health, attended the event and notes that the board has prioritized the mental health of residents.

“Mental health concerns were exacerbated by the pandemic and the Board of Health is committed to ensuring that residents are aware of the support and resources that the Coalition/Health Department and other town entities provide,” she said.

At the event, the coalition highlighted the importance of seeking help for mental health concerns, that includes and underlies opioid use disorder. Connections to care and resources for providers of all mental health topics of concern were disseminated at the event.

Kristin Romaine, mental health wellness coordinator for the town, was introduced and available to engage with participants and provide additional information.

Residents can call Romaine for assistance at 781-729-1340 ext.312 or the Health Department at 781-721-7121. The community is also encouraged to visit the Health Department’s Wellness Resources webpage at: https://www.winchester.us/930/Wellness-Resources.

Mental Health Hub

Winchester has recently formed the “Mental Health Hub” that is a partnership of several key town departments that meets regularly to discuss the behavioral health needs of our community.

The Hub strives to ensure the town is prepared to aid in times of crisis, and routinely connects residents to care, resources and support services. The Hub consists of the Police Department, Coalition for a Safer Community, licensed mental health staff, Fire Department, Health Department and Jenks Center.

Resources:

INTERFACE, free Referral Helpline to locate mental health providers: 888-244-6843

Kristin Romaine, LMHW, Winchester Mental Health and Wellness Coordinator, located at the Police Department: 781-729-1214

Suzanne Norton, MSW, Winchester Social Worker, located at the Jenks Center: 781-721-7136

Jennifer Murphy is the director of the Winchester Health Department.

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