News & Reports

Marin Healthcare District Hosts Opioid Seminar

GREENBRAE, CA – Did you know that prescription drugs kill more people than car accidents in Marin County? Despite a 30% decrease in opioid prescriptions and 27% decrease in death rates from 2014 – 2016, accidental overdoses are still top of mind for county public health officials.

On Tuesday, January 30, Marin Healthcare District hosted a seminar regarding the opioid public health crisis at Marin General Hospital. During the conference, Ramana Naidu, MD, Medical Director of Pain Management at Marin General Hospital, Matt Willis, MD, Marin County Public Health Officer, and Jeff DeVido, MD, Chief of Addiction Services at Marin Health and Human Services, discussed their roles in facilitating urgent responses to the growing problem.

Pushing for an increase in cross-sector collaboration among healthcare providers, law enforcement, public health, and the rest of the community was emphasized. To that end, RxSafe Marin has formed an opioid safety coalition between healthcare providers, law enforcement, public health, and the rest of the community.

“RxSafe Marin, our opioid safety coalition, has been helping gather stakeholders around this issue for 4 years in order to coordinate strategies across the county. MGH has been a valuable partner in this effort. Several of the attendees of the session signed up to join this effort. Ultimately, this is how were going to beat this epidemic—by coming together, acknowledging the problem, and designing local strategies that cut across our silos inside and outside of healthcare.”  

– Matt Willis, MD, Marin County Public Health Officer

“The epidemic is getting worse, not better nationally. A new set of challenges is emerging in the form of synthetic high potency opioids like fentanyl and heroin. Opioid overdose rates to heroin are on the rise in Marin and elsewhere. Dr. DeVido emphasized that it’s vital that people struggling with addiction have access to treatment. We are referring to opioid addiction now as opioid use disorder, since it’s a disease that can be treated. Medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorder works. It's an effective way to prevent overdose deaths.”

– Matt Willis, MD, Marin County Public Health Officer

“With medicine as a business, money has influenced the role of opioids in our construct for pain management, when in fact, there is plenty of evidence to suggest they are not good for many pain conditions such as low back pain and migraines, and can actually make one’s pain worse—this is known as opioid-induced hyperalgesia.  Health-care consumers demand more from their providers, and health-care providers may feel pressure to provide a pain-reliever in order to improve their patient-satisfaction survey scores. Lastly, doctors receive inadequate education in their medical school training averaging 9.5 hours, and doctors have little time during their visits to go through all of the risks and benefits of opioid therapy.”

– Dr. Ramana Naidu, MD, Medical Director of Pain Management at Marin General Hospital

The event was organized by Marin Healthcare District as part of their Community Health Seminar Series which provides periodic educational forums for the Marin Community about timely and important health-related issues.

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