System News

Friday, January 12, 2024 - Roper St. Francis Healthcare to host first Narcan giveaway/drug take-back

Roper St. Francis Healthcare’s clinic for unfunded or underfunded patients will pair a medication take-back event with a giveaway of a live-saving drug for opioid overdoses.

Take-back events and disposal locations throughout the country are crucial tools for getting unwanted or unused medication out of the community, where they are susceptible to possible misuse or abuse.

But for its first time, the Roper St. Francis Greer Transitions Clinic in North Charleston will host a medication take-back and naloxone distribution event, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 24 at the clinic at 5133 Rivers Ave.

The clinic partnered on the program with Charleston County’s Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, commonly known as the Charleston Center, which promotes the recovery of residents affected by addiction. Personnel from the Charleston Center, a key distributor of free naloxone in the Lowcountry, will educate naloxone recipients on how to use the nasal spray, commonly known as Narcan. The drug is effective in reversing the effects of a potentially lethal overdose from opioid drugs.

Roper St. Francis Healthcare formed its Opioid Task Force as a concerted effort to avoid unnecessary opioid prescriptions while limiting quantities prescribed to only what’s needed for pain treatment. As a leader among South Carolina healthcare organizations in tackling opioid prescription rates, the system has seen positive impacts of that plan.

But Dr. Samuel Parish, addiction medicine specialist at Greer Transitions Clinic, said many residents still have prescribed painkillers and other drugs sitting in their cabinets, where they can be taken by visitors. Offering take-back events is a proven method of preventing such drugs from falling into the wrong hands.

When opioids still make it to the streets, that’s where free naloxone plays a vital role in harm reduction, Dr. Parish said. Fentanyl can be particularly deadly, whether taken intentionally or by accident with another drug. Naloxone is now available to buy over the counter for anyone in the community to have on hand in case they’re nearby when someone suffers an overdose.

The clinicians at Greer Transitions Clinic also see the effects of addiction and fatal overdoses on the community they serve. The staff saw the need for partnering with the Charleston Center to add opportunities for area residents to get free naloxone. If it can save a life and eventually allow that person to get treatment, it will be worth it, Dr. Parish said.

“It’s all part of a puzzle to address the broader problem of addiction in our neighborhoods,” Dr. Parish said. “Roper St. Francis Healthcare wants to be a piece of that puzzle to bring about change in our community.”

Since its inception nearly a decade ago, the Greer Transitions Clinic has aimed to close the healthcare gap for unfunded and/or underfunded patients who do not have a medical home. The clinic is helping improve care coordination as a one-stop shop where patients can visit board certified physicians, learn preventive care and health literacy, connect with social services and find a primary medical home at the appropriate time.

As part of Roper St. Francis Healthcare’s Strategic Plan 2030, the system also has sought ways to broaden access to healthcare and continue its mission of healing all people with compassion, faith and excellence.

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