ALBANY, N.Y. – The New York State Association of Nurse Anesthetists (NYSANA) brought together healthcare professionals and those who work on the front lines for a panel discussion to address opioid abuse and how the community can come together to avert it. The forum took place on Nov. 14 at the Albany Capital Center, just steps from the Capitol.
“This was a very informative discussion among panelists who have seen the opioid-abuse crisis from all perspectives – prevention, treatment, first-response, law enforcement and the spread of infectious diseases through needle use,” said NYSANA President Jessica Pitman, DNP, CRNA. “NYSANA has joined the effort to promote opioid-free anesthesia as an effective pain-management protocol for patients who may experience negative effects of narcotics in anesthesia or risk addiction or relapse.”
“If we don’t open the door for patients by giving them opiates during surgery, then the path to addiction is unlikely,” said Jeremy Lombardoni, MS, CRNA, ANP. Jeremy is a private practitioner from Gloversville who only administers opioid-free anesthesia.
Moderated by Assemblyman John T. McDonald III (108th Assembly District), who owns and operates Marra’s pharmacy, the panel also included Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security; Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple and Lon Fricano, BA, EMT-P, president of the Heroin Epidemic Action League (HEAL) in Auburn and Cayuga County.
The conversation covered the myriad challenges faced by those on the front lines of the opioid crisis, including K-12 prevention, the cost of overdose-reversal medication, funding for intervention and treatment and reducing relapse. Sheriff Apple created a special wing in the Albany County Jail to help inmates with addiction. The
Sheriff’s Addiction Recovery Program – or SHARP – supports inmates as they seek resources to remain clean in jail and post-release.
“We still need the law enforcement, but I believe the education and awareness component is the only way out of this,” said Sheriff Apple, adding that earlier intervention would help keep people out of jail in the first place. “We should be in the schools more to talk to these kids and talk about the devastating effects one wrong choice can have.”
Dr. Adalja said needle use and needle sharing can lead to so many other problems. “The opioid epidemic is really a powder keg for blood-borne illnesses” he said, naming Hepatitis B, C, and HIV. “I see dozens of patients at the hospital just because they injected with a dirty needle
Assemblyman McDonald spoke from his experience as a lawmaker and as the owner of a pharmacy in Albany County.
“Over the past few years I have seen this problem come into our cities and towns and cause untold pain and loss for so many families,” Assemblyman McDonald said. “The statistics really are alarming and it’s a concern I know my constituents have shared with me countless times.
NYSANA will be hosting another Opioid Forum in early 2019. To learn more about the organization, visit www.nysana.com.
Signs of an Opioid Overdose
- Breathing is slow, shallow, or nonexistent
- Pupils will contract and appear small
- Choking or snoring sounds
- Fingernails and lips turn blue or purplish blac
- Vomiting – Pulse is slow or very faint
- Unconscious and unable to awaken
CALL 911 and Administer NARCAN if available
FREE Narcan Training
Group Training for Narcan
New York State HOPE Line
About New York State Association of Nurse Anesthetists (NYSANA):
NYSANA is the statewide professional association representing the interests of over 1,600 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists and Student Registered Nurse Anesthetists providing high quality, safe and cost-effective anesthesia care to residents across New York state in every setting anesthesia services are provided.