Many tools to combat opioid epidemic
It was painful to read Tracy Fu’s letter on Wednesday, Oct. 13, losing a son, and as a community, losing another young vibrant member to the opioid epidemic is incredibly painful. It may not be apparent to the community at large but the treatment community of which I am part of is trying hard to respond to this epidemic. Let me update you on our progress:
• Kaua‘i Adolescent Treatment Center for Healing (KATCH): Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation – Kaua‘i (Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital, Kaua‘i Veterans Memorial Hospital and clinics) has taken this bull by the horns. We are identifying and hiring great staff and getting State of Hawai‘i certifications and licensing as fast as we can. We aspire to be operating in January, but these processes often rely on other agencies to move as quickly as we desire. We will be updating the Mayor’s Office as we progress. The Mayor’s Office has been very helpful, and Mayor Kawakami himself has assured me that this is his highest priority.
• Medical Treatment: The emergency rooms on the island can start treatment in the ER and connect patients to treatment providers the next day. We are training new doctors on treatment for opioid dependence. The first one was here in September from Hilo. Physicians are supporting each other to connect and offer treatment in as many sites of care as possible.
• Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center (KCCC): With the support of the warden at KCCC and the nurses who care for the inmates, HHSC-Kaua‘i, The Department of Public Safety and Hawaiʻi State Rural Health Association have begun the first program in the state to treat those who struggle with opioid dependence who are also in jail. Additionally, we are offering advanced treatment options for other substance use disorders such as alcohol and methamphetamines to reduce relapse, re-arrest and overdose deaths after release.
• Kaua‘i Police Department (KPD): Carrying naloxone spray around with them as they interact with the community everywhere is a huge help, and is a great example of KPD’s work to not only enforce the law but care for the community. A community meeting is planned on Oct. 19 that the KPD has organized to respond to this crisis, which is an important next step.
It is of no help, I am certain, to those who have lost a loved on to hear of these efforts. Too little too late…for many. However, I have devoted a substantial part of my medical career to preventing these deaths and along with so many others from every corner of the community, will continue to respond with every tool and with every viable approach to this devastating crisis.
Graham Chelius, MD, Chief of Staff, Kaua‘i Veterans Memorial Hospital, HHSC-Kauai Region
A thank you to Kaua‘i Transporation!
Sincere thank yous, mahalos, to our dedicated, thoughtful, caring bus drivers with our Kaua‘i Transporation service who often go way above their customary duties to offer personalized, caring service to our senior passengers, including me.
A couple of days ago, I rode the Route No. 70 Lihu‘e shuttle from Lihu‘e Gardens Elderly to Walmart to buy my refilled prescriptions awaiting me at Walmart and stock up on a few replenishment supplies: about five blue bags worth.
Returning to the No. 70 Shuttle home, the driver courteously worked the lift for me and put my bags on the bench at home, Lihu‘e Gardens. As I unpacked my “blue bags” I found I had missed one containing the an and bowl I planned to reheat my dinner in! It was still riding the bus… I called Kaua‘i Transporation dispatch and asked if it had been turned in. Hearing a bus motor, I looked out my window to see a No. 70 briefly stopping. My bag was given to my neighbor for me. Ahh, saintly drivers!
Alice Parker, Lihu‘e