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(Denison, IA) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, across the United States in 2016, about 170 people died every day from opioid-related drug overdoses. In all, more than 62,000 people died from overdosing on opioids. In 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared opioid abuse a public emergency and called on local healthcare providers to join in the effort.

Bill Bruce, CEO and President of Crawford County Memorial Hospital (CCMH), said deaths from overdosing on drugs is truly an epidemic, even in rural Iowa.

“More than 300 Iowans died of drug overdoses in 2016,” Bruce explained. “While Iowa is well below the national average on drug-related deaths, CCMH wants to be the leader is preventing opioid abuse in Crawford County.”

Andy Segebart, Pharmacy manager at CCMH, noted that the hospital is participating with the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative (IHC) and Compass Hospital Improvement Innovation Network (HIIN) to create and maintain an opioid guardianship project.

“The goals of the opioid guardianship project are to do a better job of educating patients and caregivers regarding pain management, and to reduce the number of opioids prescribed for acute and chronic pain,” Segebart said. “This will require healthcare professionals across a broad range of disciplines to be more aware of the risks of opioid medications and work together to meet patient-specific comfort and functionality goals.”

Erin Muck, Chief Nursing Officer for CCMH, also commented on other efforts taking place in Crawford County to deal with potential opioid overdoses.

“We’re working with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Bureau of Emergency and Trauma Services (BETS), the state Substance Abuse Division, and all local first responders on education of opioid addiction and treatment,” Muck said. “The Crawford County Ambulance service already has in place a plan and doses of Naloxone (Narcan) available for patients in need upon ambulance arrival.”

Naloxone, more commonly referred to as Narcan, counteracts the life-threatening effects of opioid overdose. Naloxone was previously available only in an injectable form. Since most accidental overdoses occur in a home setting, a needle-free nasal spray was developed for first responders, as well as family, friends, and caregivers.

On June 12, 2018 CCMH will host a community meeting for opioid abuse education and awareness, and to outline additional steps being taken in the county to combat opioid abuse. The meeting will be held at 12:00 noon in the meeting rooms at CCMH. A light lunch will be served. Local law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, volunteer fire fighters, nurses, healthcare providers and members of the general public are invited to attend. Seating is limited. Please RSVP to 712-265-2547 or email