WIFR: Health Care Professionals Working to Combat the Opioid Crisis

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) — About 175 health care providers gathered to try to combat the opioid crisis in Winnebago County.

“It’s been a crisis for several years on a national level, but particularly even in our area in Rockford and Winnebago County,” said Dr. Kevin Rynn, the Vice Dean at the UIC College of Pharmacy at Rockford.

Area health care professionals are learning more about what they can do to help control the opioid crisis.

“Winnebago County has one of the highest incidences of overdoses from opioids, so certainly within this state, it’s a community in crisis,” said Mary Moody, the Assistant Dean for Business Development at the UIC College of Pharmacy.

At the summit, they discussed when it’s appropriate to prescribe an opioid and how long a patient needs to take it. The longer the duration, the more likely a patient becomes dependent on the drug.

“Someone can take their opioids for a day or two and they are better. Then they don’t use them anymore, perhaps they put them up in a medicine cabinet, and their teenage child knows it’s there and maybe is exposed to it and then that causes a problem for them down the road,” said Dr. Rynn.

Physicians, pharmacists, advanced practice nurses, physician assistants and health professions students could give their input and ideas during a panel.

“It’s not always necessary to prescribe an opioid, certainly in the cases of mild to moderate pain. It might be more appropriate to use physical therapy, massage therapy or non-narcotic medication,” said Moody.

“We want this day to end with some actionable items that we move forward within the community as a group of healthcare workers to help the Rockford community, Winnebago County and even the surrounding counties as well,” said Dr. Rynn.

Mercyhealth’s continuing medical education department provided educational credits and sponsored the dinner for those who attended.

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