Harm Reduction Support
Focus: Opioid Addiction and Harm Reduction
Because West Virginia’s rates of addiction are high, the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy and its students have worked to make an impact on the crisis, from educational outreach opportunities, to syringe exchange programs, to offering an on-campus conference to reduce stigma, and utilizing donations and grants to help with providing life-saving access to naloxone for first responders.
UC Assistant Professor, Pharmacy Practice Department and Pharmacist in Charge, PharmUC Patient Care Clinic, Lindsay Acree has been on the forefront of naloxone training and distribution programs. To date, she has trained over 500 individuals on the community level and 222 individuals to be trainers throughout the state. She and the SOP have been instrumental in providing naloxone kits to first responders throughout the state through donations and grants, providing thousands of doses to help combat the crisis.
Although education and access to naloxone are just small pieces of the puzzle, these opportunities have allowed UC to make a significant impact in the community. Every dose of naloxone that has been provided to someone is potentially one less fatal overdose, but most importantly a potential life saved.
UC Student Receives National Recognition for Change the Stigma Conference
“As pharmacists, we are arguably one of the most accessible health care providers and our profession plays a crucial role in improving public health.” Glenn Schiotis, Class of 2020
UC School of Pharmacy student Glenn Schiotis was named the top recipient for the United States Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Award for graduates in the Class of 2020, primarily for developing the Change the Stigma Conference he helped create.
The Change the Stigma Conference was held at the University of Charleston, and over 70 interprofessional health-care students attended the event from the fields of pharmacy, nursing, and physician assistant. Attendees learned how to appropriately treat patients with substance use disorder.
“I’ve been inspired by a variety of people to use my role as a student pharmacist to have a positive impact in the community, and I am so grateful for all of the opportunities and support I have received from being a part of the UCSOP family. I hope that seeing a UCSOP student win this award inspires future classes to get out there and involved in the Charleston community.”
Schiotis graduated from the School of Pharmacy in 2020 and is currently working as a pharmacist at Stony Brook Medicine in New York.
Outreach Program for Female Inmates
In February of 2020, faculty and students from UCSOP began an outreach program with the South-Central Regional Jail in Charleston to educate the incarcerated women of this facility about the risks of opioid-use while pregnant. Depending on the severity of use, the baby could be born dependent on opioids, known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).
UC students were able to present the program they developed five times to a total of 29 women, before the program was halted by COVID-19 protocols.
UC students were profoundly impacted by this community outreach program. P2 student Maryheather Walsh wrote:
“When I first volunteered to assist in the outreach project, I was nervous of what this opportunity was going to hold. However, this attitude changed drastically as the outreach program became my favorite part of each week.
“From this program, I learned how important education is in a setting where people do not have access to information… I was fascinated by how interested the women were and was blown away by the participation. In every session, the women were insightful, respectful, and attentive.
“This program also taught me the importance of conversing with people with different life experiences from your own. Having a conversation and being open to criticism not only provides you with valuable insight, but it also makes you more relatable to your target audience and your message can then be better received. While I initially saw the outreach at SCRJ as a volunteer opportunity, it turned into potentially my most valuable learning experience.”