Federally grant-funded prevention initiative will be focused on women 35 and older in Sentara RMH service area

Sentara RMH receives grant to combat opioid misuse

Focus will be on women 35 and older in the Sentara RMH service area

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Sentara RMH Medical Center has been awarded a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health (OWH) to help prevent opioid misuse in the Sentara RMH service region, particularly among women.

      According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 1999 and 2015, overdose deaths from prescription pain killers increased nationally by 218 percent among men, while for women it increased more than 471 percent. The CDC notes that women are more likely to experience chronic pain and to be prescribed opioid pain medications for longer periods and in higher doses than men.

      Sentara RMH will partner with Valley Program for Aging Services (VPAS), the Central Shenandoah Health District of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and Strength in Peers in using the federal grant money to help combat opioid misuse among women 35 and older. They seek to lower the number of i prescriptions provided to women in the central Shenandoah Valley, by providing support and education for both women and healthcare providers in the community, and by removing unneeded opioid medications from the community through drug take-back programs and other means.

      “This new initiative is one additional way that Sentara RMH has been working to reduce the incidence of opioid misuse in our community,” said Katherine Robinson, Community Health Manager

for Sentara RMH. “For example, recently Sentara IT linked access from Epic, the hospital’s medical

record system, to the Virginia Prescription Management Program, which is a valuable resource for physicians and other providers, enabling them to see which active prescriptions for controlled substances a patient has. These new grant-funded activities will complement the initiatives Sentara RMH already has in place to combat opioid misuse and overuse.”

      Healthcare providers will be able to refer patients, as appropriate, to primary and secondary prevention programs funded by the grant, Robinson noted. Primary prevention will be offered through Stanford’s Chronic Pain Self-Management Program (CPSMP) by VPAS. Secondary prevention services will be offered through peer support services by Strength in Peers. Medication disposal kits that degrade unneeded or expired medications, rendering them unusable and environmentally safe for disposal, will be provided by all partners, including VDH.

      “As a result of this project, women in the Sentara RMH service region will be better able to manage their chronic pain and those stressors that are associated with opioid misuse,” Robinson said. “And providers in the Sentara RMH service region will have the knowledge and tools they need to limit inappropriate opioid prescriptions.”