For All Seasons Rape Crisis Grows Outreach in the Community

Ivy Garcia, Director of the Rape Crisis Center and a Spanish Speaking Interpreter at For All Seasons.

The Rape Crisis Center at For All Seasons provides crisis support to our Mid-Shore’s English and Spanish speaking women, men and children who have been impacted by trauma, rape, and sexual assault. The team of five full time staff members and eight after hours’ staff provide support and guidance through crisis intervention, counseling and education 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  According to Ivy Garcia, Director of the Rape Crisis Center, “Our numbers have grown dramatically since I started at the Center 10 years ago and our agency has continued to work to meet the needs of the community.”

According to the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network, (RAINN), every 98 seconds, someone in America is sexually assaulted.  Garcia comments that For All Seasons offers 24 hours a day, seven days a week crisis response services for victims of rape and sexual assault in five counties on the Mid Shore, offering both English and Spanish emergency hotlines for the community. She adds, “While we are meeting the needs of the Mid Shore community, we also know that there are still barriers to reporting rape and sexual assault.  We are working to break down the stigma. We have expanded our outreach – working with community agencies to share information about the services we provide so more people will utilize our Center.”

The team at For All Seasons is comprised of trauma-certified advocates who help survivors make the choice that is best for them. This includes ensuring that each survivor is aware of their options for care; believing the survivor’s account of the assault; providing support and listening without judgement; and serving as a support. Specifically, the Rape Crisis Center provides support as survivors receive medical care, legal support, and crisis counseling, regardless of their ability to pay.

In addition to Ivy Garcia, members of the Rape Crisis Center team include Lauren Kirby, Victim Advocate and Outreach Educator; Elizabeth Jaramillo, Regional Navigator for Human Trafficking; Alberto Ardaya, Victim Advocate and Spanish Speaking Interpreter; and Maria D’Arcy, Victim Advocate and Case Manager.

Victims of trauma, sexual assault and abuse are connected to the Rape Crisis Center through the agency’s Rape Crisis hotline, referrals in the community, or by the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner teams at the University of Maryland Shore Medical Centers at Easton, Cambridge or Chestertown.

When working with victims at the hospital, Advocates provide a comfort kit which includes items such as a change of clothes, personal hygiene items, a notebook for journaling and emergency food, and provide a safety check for the victim returning home. For All Seasons provides hotel stays when necessary to ensure a victim’s safety. For All Seasons then provides follow-up with the victim to offer advocacy services, which can include crisis and long-term counseling, legal support, and connection to law enforcement.

Garcia adds, “We are a victim’s advocate throughout the entire process.  No one has to go through this alone.”

The English Hotline is 410-820-5600 or 1-800-310-7273. Para Español llame o envíe un mensaje de texto al 410-829-6143. For further information, visit forallseasonsinc.org.

For All Seasons offers individual and group therapy, general, child and adolescent therapy, marriage and couples counseling, grief counseling, school-based mental health therapy, urgent care services, Rape Crisis Response, Rape Crisis Counseling and Support, 24-Hour English and Spanish Hotlines, and education and outreach programming. For further information about For All Seasons, call 410-822-1018.

Film Screenings and Narcan Trainings with TCHD

Three events in Talbot County this month and next offer trainings and free doses of Naloxone, which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

The community trainings are part of the recently launched ‘Talbot’s Got Heart’ campaign from the Talbot County Health Department Prevention Office. The next events are set for Nov. 27 at Oxford Volunteer Fire Department; Nov. 29 at Tilghman Island Volunteer Fire Company and Dec. 14 at the Talbot County Free Library, St. Michaels Branch.

Each event includes a screening of the powerful film ‘Written Off,’ which is a powerful documentary that details the life of Matt Edwards, who lost his battle with heroin dependency. The film runs 117 minutes, with training immediately following. Each household trained gets a free overdose response kit that includes a box of Naloxone, which is commonly sold under the brand name Narcan.

“Maryland is on pace for more than 2,000 opioid overdose deaths this year – we’re doing everything we can to slow down those numbers,” said Alexandra Duff, prevention specialist with the health department.

Since June, Duff and her team have trained more than 500 people – 75 of those were in the first month of the campaign.

“Narcan isn’t just for people who have a drug use disorder,” said Duff.“We’re seeing senior citizens overdose after accidentally taking more painkillers than they intended. We’re also hearing about Narcan saving pets that accidentally ingest medications.”

Anyone can get trained and carry the medicine, which is now available in Maryland without a prescription.

The events are free and registration is requested and available at www.TalbotsGotHeart.org.

‘Talbot’s Got Heart’ is in partnership with Mariah’s Mission Fund of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation and the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce, and in coordination with Maryland Heroin Awareness Advocates, Talbot Chapter.

In addition to the community trainings, a ‘Lunch and Learn’ training is scheduled for Nov. 30 at the chamber. Registration is available online at www.talbotchamber.org or by calling the chamber at 410-822-4653.

Training certificates are good for two years. Renewal certificates do require a refresher course.

The Talbot County Health Department Prevention Office helps community groups, agencies and individuals in providing programs and activities to prevent alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse, and to build a healthier community. Resources include parenting skills, video and resource loan library, awareness campaigns and educational workshops.

 Established in 2014, Mariah’s Mission Fun of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation is a non-profit that provides support groups and resources to empower families and individuals struggling with the effects of substance use disorder. Valerie Albee founded the fund in honor of her daughter, Mariah, who lost her life to heroin.

Keep Calm and Party On at Handmade from the Heart Festival

Teamwork is important to the Eastern Shore Tents and Events crew and this December they are demonstrating exactly this at Evergreen’s 17th Annual Handmade from the Heart Festival December 1st & 2nd, where local artists & craftspeople gather to showcase their work. Eastern Shore Tents and Events is helping to sponsor the festivities by providing the beautiful tented backdrop for this fun and festive occasion. The tent will help to house a new addition to the Handmade festival – the Evergreen Spirit Auction featuring many one of a kind gifts & rare opportunities! Among these are: a Week’s Vacation in Provence, France; Dinner + Wine Pairing for 8 at the Private Home of Amy Haines & Richard Marks; Fishing Charter with Max Fly Charters; a Private Sailing charter for 20 aboard Skipjack HM Krentz; a Custom Pet Portrait – Oil Painting by Patti Fisher; a Week of Nutritious and Delicious Meals from Eat Sprout; a Wine Gift Basket form Town & Country Liquor and Wine; a Framed Martha Hudson Watercolor;and a 6 month Membership to Hearthstone Health + Fitness including Personal Training sessions to help you discover and achieve your goals. There will be many other exciting offerings so be sure to join us Friday night and get your bids in! HMFH Festival goers will also enjoy the fresh and eclectic sound of the Front Porch Orchestra, along with local craft beverages from RAR Brewing, featured wines from Town & Country Liquors, Wonderful food from Eat Sprout, & fresh shucked oysters from Barren Island Oysters on Friday Night. Rise Up Coffee Roasters will join us on Saturday along with Eat Sprout to awaken the senses & keep the festivities on point for another day of wonderful gift buying opportunities from local artisans.

Be sure to join us at this year’s Handmade from the Heart Festival to find great holiday gifts from local artists, and to support the Evergreen mission of health and wellness in our community and environment! For more information, evergreeneaston.org or call Freya at 410-819-3395.

And for your next event be sure to visit: www.estents.com!

Shore Bancshares Employees Raise Money to Fight Childhood Cancer

More than 200 Shore Bancshares employees recently participated in the Benefits That Benefit Children campaign to help raise $2,500 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®, which is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

Benefits That Benefit Children is a cause marketing campaign that helps increase awareness of major issues that affect children’s health by generating donations when participating employers offer certain Chubb insurance benefits and their employees receive voluntary benefit information. (No purchase is necessary for Combined Insurance/Chubb to make a donation.) As a result of the various employees who received voluntary benefit information, Combined Insurance, a Chubb company, made the $2,500 donation to honor their participation. Combined Insurance is a leading provider of individual supplemental accident, disability, health, and life insurance products.

“I am proud of our employees who participated in the program, which advances important cancer research and treatment and saves lives,” said Lloyd L. “Scott” Beatty, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of Shore Bancshares, Inc. “St. Jude research is crucial to unlocking treatment and cures and I want to thank our team for attending the Benefits That Benefit Children meetings supporting this effort. We encourage other businesses in the community to join us in this important campaign we refer to as BTBC.”

Founded by entertainer Danny Thomas, St. Jude opened in 1962 and has spent more than half a century finding cures and saving children. Its groundbreaking research has helped push the survival rate for childhood cancer from less than 20 percent when the hospital opened in 1962 to more than 80 percent today.

Thanks to generous supporters, families never receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. Because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from individual contributors, St. Jude has the freedom to focus on what matters most – saving kids regardless of their financial situation.

“We are thrilled to partner with Shore Bancshares and provide a donation that touches the lives of children across the country, including Maryland, and throughout the world,” said Chris Martin, President of Chubb Workplace Benefits and Chief Operating Officer of Combined Insurance. “The Benefits That Benefit Children program enables us to help lead the fight against childhood cancer and other diseases while meeting with wonderful employees like those at Shore Bancshares.”

If you are interested in Benefits That Benefit Children, please contact focus3BENEFITS at 540-375-3991 for visit www.benefitsthatbenefitchildren.com.

About Shore Bancshares, Inc.

Shore Bancshares, Inc. is a financial holding company headquartered in Easton, Maryland and is the largest independent bank holding company located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  It is the parent company of Shore United Bank; one retail insurance producer firm, The Avon-Dixon Agency, LLC (“Avon-Dixon”), with two specialty lines, Elliott Wilson Insurance (Trucking) and Jack Martin Associates (Marine); and an insurance premium finance company, Mubell Finance, LLC (“Mubell”).  Shore Bancshares Inc. engages in trust and wealth management services through Wye Financial & Trust, a division of Shore United Bank. Additional information is available at www.shorebancshares.com.

About Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company. With operations in 54 countries, Chubb provides commercial and personal property and casualty insurance, personal accident and supplemental health insurance, reinsurance and life insurance to a diverse group of clients.  As an underwriting company, we assess, assume and manage risk with insight and discipline.  We service and pay our claims fairly and promptly.  The company is also defined by its extensive product and service offerings, broad distribution capabilities, exceptional financial strength and local operations globally.  Parent company Chubb Limited is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: CB) and is a component of the S&P 500 index.  Chubb maintains executive offices in Zurich, New York, London and other locations, and employs approximately 31,000 people worldwide. Additional information can be found at: chubb.com.

About Combined Insurance

Combined Insurance Company of America (Chicago, Ill.) is a leading provider of individual supplemental accident, disability, health, and life insurance products and a Chubb company.With a tradition of nearly 100 years of success, Combined Insurance is committed to making the world of supplemental insurance easy to understand. The company has an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, an A+ (Superior) rating by A.M. Best, and is one of Ward’s Top 50® Performing Life-Health Insurance Companies. Combined Insurance is also a 2017 Top 10 Military Friendly®

Employer named by G.I. Jobs Magazine—marking the fifth consecutive year on the Top 10 employer list and third consecutive year in the Top 5. In New York, products are underwritten by Combined Life Insurance Company of New York (Latham, N.Y.). For more information, please visit combinedinsurance.com.

About St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90 percent, and we won’t stop until no child dies from cancer. St. Jude freely shares the discoveries it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. Join the St. Jude mission by visiting stjude.org, liking St. Jude on Facebook (facebook.com/stjude) and following us on Twitter (@stjude).

Absurdly Good Food from Eat Sprout at Handmade from the Heart Festival

At Evergreen’s 17th Annual Handmade from the Heart Festival December 1st & 2nd, where local artists & craftspeople gather to showcase their work, Eat Sprout will be providing delicious tastes of nutritionist-designed & chef-crafted creations under the tent on Friday night, along with local craft beverages from RAR Brewing, featured wines from Town & Country Liquors, & fresh shucked oysters from Barren Island Oysters.  (other food related offerings?)

Eat Sprout is a local husband and wife team whose passion it is to provide healthy, sustainable and locally sourced food delivered to your door.  So don’t worry!  When you find you cannot pull yourself away from their table at the Friday night opening, you can sign up for custom planned meals.  “Enjoy Sprout for a week” will also be one of the many fabulous items offered during the Evergreen Spirit Auction, a new addition to Friday night’s festivities.  What a stress free, delicious way to free up time during the holidays!

Be sure to join us at this year’s Handmade from the Heart Festival to learn more about Eat Sprout, find great holiday gifts, and to support the Evergreen mission of health and wellness in our community and environment! For more information, evergreeneaston.org or call Freya at 410-819-3395.

Evergreen is a non-profit advocacy organization for health and wellness, offering wellness services and classes to support mind, body, spirit, and the earth.  Wellness Center services include Massage Therapy and Reflexology, Acupuncture, Psychotherapy, Feng Shui, Yoga Therapy, Life Coaching and more. Evergreen is located at 770 Port Street, just past Londonderry.  Call for more information about programs and classes at 410-819-3395, or visit us on the web at www.evergreeneaston.org.

For All Seasons Receives Speer Grant

For All Seasons recently received a $30,000 grant from The Speer Trust, an Administrative Commission of the New Castle Presbytery, to support residents on the Mid Shore, including Kent County. The grant will help families to have access to mental health services regardless of their ability to pay and victims of rape and sexual assault to continue to receive a rapid support and advocacy response and have opportunities for ongoing mental health treatment.

According to Beth Anne Langrell, Executive Director of For All Seasons, “Even with the Affordable Care Act, the reality is that co-payments have skyrocketed in the past several years and families cannot afford these co-payments for mental health care. We believe that families shouldn’t have to choose between food on the table and mental health care – families and communities are healthier and safer when everyone who needs mental health care gets it.”

Pictured L-R are Bob Schminkey, Stated Clerk for New Castle Presbytery, Pastor Sara Holben, Presbyterian Church of Chestertown, and Beth Anne Langrell, Executive Director of For All Seasons, Inc.

One focus of the grant will be to reach out to the community, including the Chestertown Presbyterian Church, to ensure that everyone knows about mental health needs and sexual assault prevention and awareness activities. In addition, For All Seasons will also offer general education sessions on topics such as grief, attachment, trauma, and coping.

The Speer Trust is an Administrative Commission of the New Castle Presbytery, funding $6 million of programs in Delaware and the Eastern Shore of MD over the past 32 years and $8 million worldwide. The Speer Trust is a bequest from the estate of George I. And Lizzie F. Speer of Wilmington, Delaware, received by the Presbytery of New Castle in 1985 and earmarked for mission with people who are poor and oppressed. The Presbytery, through the use of the Speer Trust, is committed to empowering people who are marginalized, in every culture, and addressing root cause of poverty.

According to Bob Schminkey, Stated Clerk for New Castle Presbytery, “New Castle Presbytery is excited to partner with For All Seasons in supporting and expanding your mental health advocacy throughout the Eastern Shore. We look forward to our local congregations joining with you to build safe and healthy communities where health services are accessible to all.”

Langrell adds, “We are thrilled with the opportunity this grant provides in helping those who have entrusted us with their care to be empowered and nurtured on their journey to wellness.”

For All Seasons offers individual and group therapy, general, child and adolescent therapy, marriage and couples counseling, grief counseling, school-based mental health therapy, urgent care services, Rape Crisis Response, Rape Crisis Counseling and Support, 24-Hour English and Spanish Hotlines, and education and outreach programming. For further information about For All Seasons, call 410-822-1018. For the 24-Hour Crisis Hotline, call Toll-Free: 800-310-7273.

Maryland Touts new Generic Drug Price-Gouging Law

Following Maryland’s recent efforts as the first state to enact a law that protects consumers from generic prescription drug price-gouging, local leaders and health care advocates on Tuesday highlighted the benefits of the legislation and urged Marylanders to share their personal stories about drug affordability.

The law went into effect Oct. 1 and restricts manufacturers of generic and off-patent prescription drugs from price gouging, or the “excessive and not justified” increase in the cost of a drug, according to a state analysis.

In July, the Association for Accessible Medicines, the trade association that represents America’s manufacturers of generic and biosimilar medicines, filed a lawsuit against Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Dennis Schrader, secretary of the Maryland Department of Health, charging that the law was unconstitutional. The association said in July that the law was only protecting high-priced brand name drug companies and punishing lower cost generic alternatives.

In September, a judge rejected portions of the association’s argument and allowed the law to take effect. The association in a statement has said it plans to appeal.

“As a caregiver, prescription drugs are a big part of my life,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker in a press release. Baker on Tuesday explained how the law has personally affected him and his family. His wife was diagnosed with early onset dementia and the cost of her medication had shot up from $100 during his earlier pharmacy visits to $300 in recent visits.
“You think about the fact that I have some of the best insurance as county executive. … I have resources, but what happens to somebody that comes in and can’t afford to pay $300?” Baker said.

Generic medications account for 88 percent of drugs dispensed nationally, and 22 percent of generics studied by the Government Accountability Office experienced an “extraordinary price increase” of 100 percent or greater between 2010 and 2015, according to the office of the Maryland Attorney General.

“I take care of patients, not laws,” Dr. Stephen Rockower, past president of MedChi said Tuesday. “My job is to make sure that patients get better, which means patients taking their medicine, and I can’t do my job when they can’t afford their medicine.”

EpiPens and Naloxone are medications that officials have raised concerns about recently — citing prices that rose sharply from October 2013 to April 2014. Prices of EpiPens had a 508 percent increase in price. Naloxone, a medication used to treat opioid overdose — an especially important medication amid the nation’s opioid crisis — increased in price by 553 percent, according to the office of the Maryland Attorney General.

“It’s outrageous that companies can jack up prices like this,” Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative President Vincent DeMarco told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service. “This law is a life-saver and we’re confident that the attorney general will continue to succeed in court with this legislation.”

Maryland joined 44 other states on Tuesday in an antitrust investigation of the generic drug industry. They asked a federal court for permission to file a new complaint to increase the number of generic drug manufacturer defendants from six to 16, and drugs at issue from two to 15.

“We have to go after it,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh told Capital News Service. “We’ll see the drug companies collapse and take it to trial.”

Supporters of the legislation urged consumers on Tuesday to submit their stories to www.healthcareforall.com/hearmystory, a new webpage created for the public to share how escalating drug prices have hurt them or their families.

“As legislators, one of the ways we were able to fight was to hear the stories of individuals and repeat them in court by talking to people who could not afford the medicine that they needed,” said state Delegate Ariana Kelly (D-Montgomery). “We need your help to make sure that the legislation works.”

By Georgia Slater

Free Seminar on Tax Strategies for 2017.

Fred Hopkins

University of Maryland Memorial Hospital Foundation will host a free seminar, “Tax Strategies for 2017” on Saturday, November 18 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Talbot Country Free Library in Easton. Guest speakers for the seminar will include Fred Hopkins, JD, CFA, managing director of Wealth and Fiduciary Planning and national director of Business Owner Planning, Wilmington Trust; Darian L. Sump, CPA, owner of Sump & Associates, PC; and Deborah Walsworth, CPA, CFP, CPC, managing director and tax practice leader, CBIZ MHM LLC & Mayer Hoffman McCann, PC.

At Wilmington Trust, Hopkins oversees the delivery of comprehensive wealth advisory services to individuals and families in several different regions of the country. He holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Law and is a CFA® Charterholder and a member of the CFA Institute, the Baltimore CFA Society, the Maryland State Bar Association, and the Baltimore Estate Planning Council. He currently serves as chairman of the Investment Committee for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and serves on the Board of Trustees of Friends of Clifton Mansion.

 

Darian Sump

 

Sump’s firm, Sump & Associates, PC, in Easton, provides tax and accounting services to individual, small businesses and non-profits. Sump is currently serving as a Court Appointed Special Advocate in Talbot County and has previously served on the board of directors for that organization. A graduate of Shore Leadership and LEAD Maryland, Sump is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants.

 

 

 

 

Deborah Walsworth

During her nearly three decades in public accounting, Walsworth has developed a diverse client base that includes individuals, businesses, trusts, estates and retirement plans. She provides tax compliance and consulting services, including financial and retirement benefit planning. She presently serves on the Board of Directors for the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce and For All Seasons, Inc.

 

To register for the seminar or for more information, please contact Janet Andrews at the UM Memorial Hospital Foundation (410) 822-1000, extension 5792 or by email at janet@umm.edu. This event is free to all attendees; seating is limited and pre-registration is required.  Light refreshments will be served.

November is National Hospice & Palliative Care Month

In recognition of National Hospice & Palliative Care Month in November, Talbot Hospice will offer two Lunch & Learns at the Easton and St. Michaels locations of the Talbot County Free Library. Presentations will be held Monday, November 13, 12 p.m. at the St. Michaels branch and Wednesday, November 15, 12 p.m. in Easton.

The educational presentations – Hospice 101: Debunking the Myths – will dovetail with this year’s NHPC Month theme “It’s about how you live.” According to Talbot Hospice Executive Director Vivian Dodge, hospice is about how you want to live the last chapter of life. “Our goal is to educate the community that hospice is not just for the last days or week of life,” said Dodge. “Hospice is a system of care and support for both the patient and the family. It’s not a place or our building on Cynwood Drive. In fact, most of the patients we serve are in their homes. I hope individuals will put aside their preconceived ideas about hospice and their reluctance to talk about death and dying and come hear about the uplifting and important work we do.”

For more information, or to register call Talbot Hospice at 410-822-6681.

Md. Medical society asks hospitals to review opioid doses

The Maryland State Medical Society is taking action amidst the nation’s opioid crisis and urging hospitals and physicians in the state to decrease the automated controlled-substance standing orders and to prescribe a minimum amount of opioids necessary.

This epidemic is gathering attention in Maryland — Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency March 1 and committed an additional $50 million over five years to help with prevention.

The number of deaths due to prescription opioids decreased slightly — from 218 to 211— in the first half of this year over the same time period last year, Jan 1. To June 30, according to state health department data released Tuesday.

But the increase in all opioid-related deaths recent years has been sharp: From 2014 to 2017, the number of opioid-related deaths reported in Maryland between Jan. 1 and March 31 more than doubled — taking the death toll up to 473 from 226 three years earlier, according to state health department data.

In response to this crisis, the society, known as MedChi, created an Opioid Task Force to “educate Maryland physicians on safe opioid prescribing practices, how to recognize risk factors, and when to recommend alternative, scientifically-based evidence-based non-opioid treatments,” according to a release earlier this month.

Over the last decade and a half, the amount of opioids prescribed in the United States has risen sharply.

The amount of opioids prescribed per person more than tripled from 1999 to 2015, when the volume of prescriptions reached enough for every American to be medicated for three weeks straight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The problem may have began in the 1990s when physicians received messages saying they were undertreating pain, said MedChi President Dr. Gary Pushkin.

The “inadequate treatment of pain” was the subject of many policy efforts in the 1990s and among these were the “increased use of opioids for acute pain and the use of long-term opioid therapy for patients with chronic pain,” according to a 2016 paper in the
American Journal of Law and Medicine.

“Doctors do have a role in the whole opioid problem, but I don’t think we are the bad guys that we are painted out to be … a majority of doctors want to do the right thing,” added Pushkin.

Now with the ongoing epidemic and continual increase in opioid prescriptions, MedChi is seeking out these smaller changes with the hopes of a larger impact.

The group is asking that physicians and hospitals review the automated controlled substance “standing orders” that are in the electronic health record systems.

These systems may be creating these standing orders automatically as the recommended dosages — even when lower dosages would be sufficient, Pushkin said.

With this initiative, MedChi is asking that if opioids are being prescribed, hospitals and physicians do not solely rely on auto-populated dosages, and instead they decide which dosage, preferably one that is more minimal, is actually necessary for the pain being treated, explained MedChi CEO Gene Ransom.

Letters have been sent to Maryland hospitals and physicians, according to Pushkin, suggesting that either, “(1) the physicians’ standing orders be reduced to the minimum dosage and quantities necessary or (2) that practices remove any automated dosage and quantity in the …ordering system.”

Ransom said MedChi has received positive responses from hospitals and physicians, and some have begun looking into enacting these changes. Many of them were appreciative that more is being done to try and solve this opioid problem, he added.

“We are very much in line with MedChi’s efforts to reduce standing orders and we know that our efforts can’t just stop there. There are many more measures we have to take on a wider basis for this issue,” Nicole Stallings, Maryland Hospital Association vice president of policy and data analytics told Capital News Service.

The association has been trying to tackle the epidemic for years — in 2015 the group created a set of opioid prescribing guidelines, which included altering standard orders, and 100 percent of Maryland hospital emergency departments signed on to using these guidelines, Stallings added.

Prescribing opioids for too many days and at too high a dose can create a problem, according to the CDC.

Even at low doses, taking an opioid for more than three months can increase the risk of addiction by 15 times, the CDC reported.

A solution may be prescribing for fewer days; for acute pain, prescriptions for three days or fewer is often enough, and more than seven days is rarely needed, according to the CDC.

“This small adjustment could help prevent patients from receiving a higher dosage or quantity than necessary, and may prevent diversion (giving drugs to other people) or other problems,” said Pushkin.

Additionally, many of these opioid prescriptions go unused and are improperly stored in the home, according to a 2017 Johns Hopkins Medicine study.

Dr. Mark Bick, associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care at Hopkins, spearheaded the study and found that 67 to 92 percent of a total of 810 patients did not use their entire opioid prescription, but still held onto them, increasing the risk of misuse.

“Our task force continues to work on solutions to this problem and we are going to keep working on it and are open to more ideas to how this can work better. It’s a common sense solution….If we can reduce just a small number (of deaths) it’s worth it,” said Ransom.

By Georgia Slater
Capital News Service