Albemarle Co. Commonwealth’s Attorney Confronting Opioid Addiction Crisis

Posted: Updated: Dec 13, 2016 09:41 PM

Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert Tracci is taking steps to confront central Virginia’s opioid addiction crisis. He wants to create a partnership between law enforcement and health care providers with a big goal - to reverse the epidemic entirely.

Tracci tells NBC29 he felt obligated to take proactive steps to address the growing opioid problem.

He sent a letter to the administrators of both the University of Virginia Medical Center and Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital to request a meeting to start this new cooperative effort

 In his letter, Tracci notes recent data that shows nearly all long-term opioid users say they first started taking the pills with a doctor's prescription.

He wants to discuss whether the health systems are following recommended steps from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce frequency and dosage of opioid prescriptions.

Tracci says law enforcement can't confront the opioid problem alone and needs to work with other stakeholders.

“Addressing this epidemic requires a cooperative approach, not a confrontational one. Law enforcement has an important role to play, as do hospitals and prescribers of these opioids,” said Tracci.

Tracci said NBC29’s two-part investigation into the opioid epidemic that aired last week prompted his latest effort. In his letter, he writes that the story, “Cast additional light on the scope and prevalence of this epidemic in central Virginia."

Representatives from both the UVA Medical Center and Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital say they are willing to meet with Tracci to discuss ways they can work with law enforcement to end the opioid epidemic.

Tracci also issued a statement in response to both the UVA Medical Center and Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital saying:

"I am pleased that the UVA Health System and Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital have agreed to meet with Central Virginia law enforcement representatives to identify concrete steps to reverse the opioid epidemic in our community.

I am pleased with Sentara's response and look forward to learning more about what steps the University of Virginia Health System has and will take to reduce opioid addiction in Virginia.

Establishing a genuine partnership with area Commonwealth's Attorney's and law enforcement representatives is a necessary first step to address the opioid and herion epidemic in our community."

Statements from the UVA Medical Center and Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital can be found below.

University of Virginia Medical Center Statement:

UVA Health System is working aggressively to combat the opioid epidemic and is involved in both state and local planning efforts to deal with this public health emergency.

On Nov. 4, UVA Health System convened a group of community stakeholders from Central Virginia to discuss potential measures to address pain management and opioid use.

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with Mr. Tracci to discuss this issue further as well as collaborate with him as part of local efforts to battle this serious issue.

Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital Statement:

Mr. Davis will be happy to meet with the Commonwealth’s Attorney to discuss what Sentara Martha Jefferson and all Sentara hospitals and physicians are already doing to help control this public health epidemic of opioid addiction in our communities.

  • Sentara Emergency Departments have adopted ‘Safe Opioid Prescribing’ Guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Hospital Association. Under these guidelines our EDs will not use IV or intramuscular opioids for chronic pain conditions. They will not replace prescriptions reported lost or stolen by patients. When opioids are prescribed, they will be limited to 20 doses.
  • Sentara physicians use opioids as the therapy of last resort for managing pain. They always start with non-opioid medications.
  • Sentara physicians have their pain patients sign contracts pledging to use opioids as prescribed and not share them with anyone else. Violation of the contract can result in discharge from the practice.

Sentara hospitals will continue to work with law enforcement, the public health system at-large and our EMS partners to reduce opioid dependence and abuse and the effects they have on our communities.

  • Albemarle Co. Commonwealth’s Attorney Confronting Opioid Addiction CrisisMore>>

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