UVA Hosting Conference on Combating Opioid Crisis

Posted: Updated:
People attending a conference event inside the UVA Rotunda People attending a conference event inside the UVA Rotunda
Kathleen McManus Kathleen McManus
Rebecca Kendall Rebecca Kendall
University of Virginia's historic Rotunda University of Virginia's historic Rotunda

Nurses and doctors are gathering at the University of Virginia to figure out how to combat the opioid epidemic that is sweeping across the commonwealth.

According to experts, around three people die every day in Virginia from opioid overdoses, and dozens more are treated in emergency rooms statewide.

"Rates of death and overdose are growing in the community," Rebecca Kendall said. "We know in Virginia overall, since 2014, more people have died from opioid overdoses than from car accidents."

"We are losing three people every day in the state of Virginia due to opioid overdoses," said Kathleen McManus with the University of Virginia.

A conference put together by UVA is hoping to change that.

Medical professionals came to the UVA Rotunda Tuesday, September 26, to take part in the Best Practices for Community Mobilization in Response to Substance Use Related Epidemics conference. The event focused on how "everyday people" need to join the fight against substance abuse.

Organizers believe gaining successful national partners that combat the drug problem will be the key to prevent it from growing further.

"We're trying to see what other places doing in their clinics and health care systems that we can enact here. How have they engaged the community? What kinds of treatments have they brought to their clinics?" McManus said.

Doctors from Maryland and Canada said the opioid epidemic is growing to be an international emergency.

"We really are at crisis level, and we need something to change soon. We need partners to come together to try to figure out what are those best practices, because what we're doing not isn't working," McManus said.

"It's a very complex issue so there's no single solution to the opioid epidemic. There's issues related to prevention. There's issues related to treatment, pain management," said Kendall.

This year in Albemarle County, more than 1,400 pounds of expired over-the-counter and prescription medications - including opioids - were collected at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital during just one of its drug take back days.