CEDAR CITY–Intermountain Cedar City Hospital, in partnership with SelectHealth, has unveiled a new public awareness campaign to promote the proper use of prescription opioids; with bold messages on walls, tables and elevators. Additional messaging also was installed at Township Pharmacy who partnered with Intermountain Healthcare to install a prescription take back box.
In Iron County, deaths related to drug overdose surpass the state rate and nearly double the national rate, and prescription opioids are the leading cause of accidental death statewide. The opioid epidemic has gripped the nation, but prescription painkillers have been especially deadly in Utah, which leads the nation in prescription opioid overdose.
“There’s a misconception that is especially prevalent about the risk of prescription opioids. In our state and in our community, prescription opioids are involved in more overdose deaths than all illegal drugs combined,” said Amber Rich, Cedar City Hospital Community Health Manager, in a release. “We want our patients, families, friends, and our own caregivers to make more informed and healthier choices.”
The campaign is part of Intermountain Healthcare’s multiple year initiative to reduce deaths associated with prescription opioid overdose and to drive home the message that every home in southern Utah should practice safe use, safe storage and safe disposal when it comes to medication.
These steps include using medications only as directed and never sharing them with others; storing medications in a secure location as you would any dangerous substance in your home; and throwing out any unused or expired medication. The campaign also encourages patients to speak out and ask doctors about their pain management plan, including other pain management alternatives.
“Intermountain is raising the bar for our caregivers and asking them to make evidence-based changes in prescribing and make reductions where needed,” said Eric Packer, Cedar City Hospital Administrator. “I appreciate that the messaging that we’re sharing within our hospital also asks our patients to ask these types of questions about what is really essential. It’s reinforcing the idea that we all need to take accountability.”
In addition to the public messaging campaign, Intermountain Cedar City Hospital has a Prescription Opioid and Naloxone Speakers Bureau who have presented at multiple community venues and agencies. They are available to schedule for educational presentations offer free naloxone kits. Naloxone is a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and is now available in Utah without a prescription for a patient or caregiver.
Intermountain has also provided grant funding to Township Pharmacy for a prescription drop box. It was one of the first privately owned pharmacies in the state to install a drop box where residents can drop off excess medications free during regular business hours. The Cedar City Police Department also has a drop box.