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Monday, November 18, 2019 - Julie Lawrence is the 2019 Humanitarian Award Winner
Julie Lawrence, a clinical pharmacist with a passion to combat opioid addiction who has been instrumental in collecting more than 500 pounds of prescription drugs from the community, is the 2019 Humanitarian Award Winner.

“Julie Lawrence wants to help our community and our country free itself from the stranglehold of opioid addiction,” Pennie Peralta, Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Nurse Executive, said at the end of LDI #51 on Wednesday at Trident Technical College in North Charleston. “It’s impossible to quantify how many lives she’s touched from these drug take back events, but she’s clearly making a difference by removing these dangerous and addictive drugs from the homes of our friends and neighbors.”

Humanitarian Award winners carry out Roper St. Francis Healthcare’s in their personal lives outside of the walls of Roper St. Francis Healthcare and share one undeniable trait – a passion to serve others. The Humanitarian Award is the highest honor bestowed on a teammate and comes with a $5,000 gift. A panel of former Humanitarian Award winners meet once a year to review all submissions.

Lawrence’s passion grew after one of her friends tragically lost a son to an opioid overdose.

Spurred by the loss, she and four others gathered around a kitchen table in 2016 to talk about what they could do to fight this epidemic. They formed a nonprofit, Wake Up Carolina, aimed at eliminating substance abuse in Charleston County.

As a pharmacist, Lawrence works to raise awareness, contribute to prevention and focus on take-back events, which involve removing prescription narcotics from households.

She is part of the Roper St. Francis Healthcare Opioid Reduction Task Force, in which she and her colleagues have revamped how our physicians treat patients’ pain when hospitalized. Roper St. Francis Healthcare has been lauded statewide for its efforts to prescribe fewer opioids than before, translating into fewer patients being exposed to and going home with opioids.

Dr. Jeffrey Frohock, one of the physicians who helped spearhead the opioid reduction effort, said task force’s work took off the day Lawrence stood up and boldly shared her personal connections to opioid addiction.

“When you look at the statistics, it’s insane to think someone in a room does not have a personal connection,” Frohock said. “Her words empowered us.”

Kim Gaillard, Lawrence’s colleague and fellow hero on the task force, said it would have been enough for Roper St. Francis Healthcare to simply develop new best practices that limit patients being exposed to powerful prescription drugs. But good enough was never going to be good enough for Lawrence, Gaillard said.

On her personal time, Lawrence helped Lowcountry residents remove opioids from their own homes so they could be safely disposed.

The state Drug Enforcement Agency offers “take back” events twice a year, but Lawrence wanted to do more. She organized more than five times as many drug take back events for Roper St. Francis Healthcare alone.

Lawrence’s husband, Bart, said once she becomes passionate about solving a problem, nothing – and no one – can hold her held back.

“That’s a characteristic of successful people,” Bart Lawrence said.

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