Police officers and fire fighter are first responders to get first treatment in training to high the state’s opioid epidemic.
Recently, the University of Arizona Center for Rural Health received a $2.2 million grant to work with the Arizona Department of Health Services.
By Lauren Renteria | Herald Review
BISBEE — In an effort to address the opioid crisis, Copper Queen Community Hospital plans to fund a year-long youth opioid prevention program for children in local schools.
KVOA.com | Written By Eric Fink
TUCSON - The opioid epidemic is killing three Arizonans a day.
Doctors and researchers at the University of Arizona hope a new multi-year $2.2 million dollar grant will go a long way to helping both the patient and the protector.
The university's College of Public Health is now taking the lead across the state to make sure every first responder, no matter where they live knows how to use Narcan, a nasal spray that can reverse the effects of an overdose. Narcan has proven a force in the fight against the crisis.
"When you're a distance from a health facility, the difference between life and death can be seconds and minutes," Dr. Daniel Derksen with the College of Public Health at the University of Arizona said. "If someone recognizes someone is in an opioid overdose situation, administering Naloxone, reverses those effects very quickly that it can save lives."
Brian Keeley is with Northwest Fire in Tucson.
All of its firefighters and first responders are trained and carry Narcan on their trucks.
"When you give this medication, it works within 30 seconds," Keeley said. "This is absolutely the lifesaver for any heroin or opioid overdose. It's the one thing that will instantaneously counteract and save a person's life."
Keeley stresses it should only be used as a last resort.
"It should not be relied upon as it's okay to take or abuse these medications or these drugs because there is something that counteracts it out there," he said.
Tucson.com | By Stephanie Innes Arizona Daily Star
PHOENIX — The issue remains divisive, but dental therapists are closer to becoming a new, licensed profession in Arizona.
Over the objection of dentists, Arizona’s Senate health committee voted 4-3 Wednesday to move forward a bill that would establish dental therapists as “mid-level” providers, who would play a role similar to that of nurse practitioners and physician assistants in the medical world.
The debate pitted dentists from the Arizona Dental Association against a coalition that includes tribes, the conservative Goldwater Institute and the Arizona Rural Health Association, among others.
Complete article at link below.
KJZZ | Jan. 23, 2018 | By Will Stone
When a patient came into her practice not long ago with a broken jaw, it wasn’t a difficult diagnosis for Dr. Christina Goldstein-Charbonneau.
“Obviously I could see her jaw was big as anything,” said Charbonneau, a primary care physician in Bullhead City.
Dr. Christina Goldstein-Charbonneau is a primary care physician who practices integrative medicine in Bullhead City.
But she did something that may have seemed overly cautious in years past.
“In today’s climate, the way it is right now, I actually went over there and said ‘I’m sorry I can’t give you anything,’” she said. “‘Let’s hold off, let me go and get your X-rays.’”
The patient had actually gone to the emergency room first where they had refused to give her pain medication. Charbonneau hurried to get the medical records and only once confirmed did she prescribe an opioid.
This hypervigilance has become the norm for doctors in this remote, underserved corner of northwest Arizona — a place hard hit by opioid abuse and overdose deaths.
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In 2016, Mohave County had more opioid prescriptions than people.
The vast rural county in northwest Arizona dispensed 127.5 opioid prescriptions per 100 residents that year, making it Arizona's most prolific county by that measure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC data shows that Arizona's rate of 70.2 opioid prescriptions per 100 people is slightly above the U.S. average of 66.5 per 100 people.
While the figures show that pain-pill prescriptions in Arizona dropped nearly 10 percent over the past decade, they have continued to rise in Mohave County and other rural counties such as Cochise and La Paz since 2007. No data was provided for Greenlee County.
Maricopa County's rate was 68.2 opioid prescriptions per 100 people, down nearly 10 percent from one decade ago.
The CDC data, based on a sample of 59,000 pharmacies nationwide, provides only a ratio of total prescriptions per 100 residents. It doesn't show the number of pills prescribed or the number of people with multiple prescriptions.
Still, the data jibes with what Mohave County health professionals and law enforcement see daily with powerful, addicting opiates such as oxycodone and Percocet widely available in the county of 200,000 residents.
"We have known if for quite a few years," Rusty Cooper, deputy chief of the Kingman Police Department, said of the prevalence of opioids in the community.
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Vicki Karr | Tucson News Now | January 31, 2018
A federal grant will allow the state and the University of Arizona to ramp up their efforts to combat the opioid crisis in communities across the state.
Since mid-June, 5,512 people have suffered a suspected overdose from opioids. More than 800 of the cases turned deadly. Click here to see the latest numbers in real time.
The $3 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will allow state and university workers to help train first responders in rural communities.
First responders will be trained to identify the symptoms of opioid abuse, and they will also be equipped with the drug Naloxone. Also known as Narcan, it’s used to block the effects of opioids especially during an overdose.
But Dan Derksen with the U of A said the grant will allow them to go beyond administering the drug. They will be trained on things like opioid screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment curriculum.
Derksen said in many cases patients who overdose have overdosed before, so he hopes providing resources will help stop the addiction cycle before it turns deadly.
Derksen said with people in Arizona dying daily, there’s no time to waste.
“We have to be doing something different than we have been doing. There’s been more than two Arizonans dying every single day of opioid overdose. More than half of which are related to prescription overdose,” he said.
The money will also be used to train people in the community. The grant funds will be put into the communities over the next four years.
Vicki Karr | KOLD 13 Tucson News Now | January 31, 2018 | 1min:56sec
The Arizona Department of Health Services and the University of Arizona were awarded a $3 million federal grant by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to battle the opioid crisis working with First Responders and Critical Access Hospitals in rural Arizona.
"We have to reduce the morbidity and mortality related to the opioid epidemic...and prevent the more than two Arizonans dying every day because of opioid overdose."
Arizona 360 Episode 104 on Friday January 26, 2018, 8:30 PM PBS 6
Host: Lorraine Rivera | Producer: Kassandra Lau | Arizona Public Media
In its first major order of business, the Arizona Legislature tackled the opioid epidemic by unanimously passing the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act in a special session. Gov. Doug Ducey signed the legislation Friday. He initiated the special session to take up the measure on Monday.
Daniel Derksen oversees the University of Arizona Center for Rural Health, which just received a $2 million federal grant to reduce opioid deaths.
He told Lorraine Rivera how new legislation begins to address the crisis: “This is a public health approach to a very difficult issue… If there were two to three people dying per day.. [from] Ebola virus … you would get a whole different level of urgency. The urgency should be just as high for this [opioid] epidemic as it would be for an infectious disease. This isn’t just affecting a certain segment of the population. This has penetrated our high schools, our grade schools, wherever you live in the state – whether it’s rural or urban, Phoenix or Tucson – we have to take this to a whole different level if we are going to make an impact.” Daniel Derksen, M.D.
By Austen Bundy | Cronkite News
Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018
Under the “AHCCCS Works” plan from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, able-bodied Medicaid recipients between ages 19 and 55 would have to work or be in school or job training for 20 hours a week to continue to get Medicaid coverage. (Photo by Adrian Clark/Creative Commons)
WASHINGTON – Arizona is one of 10 states that got federal approval Thursday to move ahead on proposals to require that able-bodied Medicaid recipients are either working or involved in “community engagement activities” to be eligible for coverage.
The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid agency, asked CMS last year for a waiver from Medicaid regulations that would allow it to test the work-requirement program.
AHCCCS did not return calls Thursday seeking to find out when, or in what form, the program might be implemented in Arizona. But its waiver request for the “AHCCCS Works” program said able-bodied recipients, ages 19 to 55, would have to log 20 hours a week at work or school, unless they were in one of several other exempted categories.
The guidance from the federal government said states should consider “a range of activities” to satisfy the work or community engagement requirement. Those could include job training, education, job searches, volunteering and caregiving, the guidelines said.
The rules could apply to “working age, non-pregnant Medicaid beneficiaries” who are not disabled. But they also called on states to make allowances for areas with high unemployment or for beneficiaries who need to care for children or elderly family members, and to include strategies for linking beneficiaries to job training and referral.
The vast majority of those eligible for Medicaid benefits in Arizona would be exempt from the work and community engagement requirements, because they are disabled, a minor, or elderly, said Daniel Derksen, director of the University of Arizona’s Center for Rural Health.
“The medical community is concerned that somehow they will be asked to be the ones to determine whether a person is able-bodied or not as part of assessing a patient that needs to be seen who might qualify for Medicaid,” Derksen said.
He said the group that will likely be most affected by the new requirements are childless adults.
A 2015 state law that requires AHCCCS to apply annually for a waiver to set new Medicaid eligibility requirements for able-bodied recipients simply defines “able bodied” as anyone over the age of 19 who is mentally and physically capable of working.
It is important that there be some system for those who are subject to the new requirements to report their work or community engagement status, Derksen said. But he noted that such language is not included in the new guidance, and the waiver request on the AHCCCS website makes no mention of a reporting system.
By Jeff Stein, January 12, 2018
Indiana hopes to make Medicaid enrollees pay a fee if they smoke cigarettes. Arizona wants to put a five-year limit on how long its poor residents can be enrolled in the program.
These proposals are part of a host of changes that mostly conservative states have unsuccessfully sought for years to overhaul Medicaid, a federal insurance program for the poor and disabled.
Now, the Trump administration is giving at least some of these initiatives the green light. On Thursday, health officials issued new guidance to state Medicaid directors, saying the administration would allow states to impose work requirements on certain Medicaid recipients — a first in the program’s 53-year history.
Perhaps the most dramatic changes being sought are in Arizona, Utah and Kansas, which are seeking to create unprecedented “lifetime caps” on Medicaid. Currently, poor Americans in every state can remain on Medicaid as long as they qualify. All three states have sought to create new policies with unprecedented limitations on the number of years participants could stay on Medicaid — up to five years in Arizona and Utah, and up to three years in Kansas.
It’s unclear if the Trump administration will permit lifetime caps. The Obama administration rejected similar requests. Trump officials have given no indication they plan to approve them.
Critics slammed the proposals.
“We’d see a dramatic increase in the number of uninsured,” said Daniel Derksen, professor of public health at the University of Arizona, about how that provision would impact his state. “You’d also see the rate of closure for rural and critical-access hospitals go up — those are the vulnerable parts of the health community that could only absorb a certain amount” [of uncompensated and charity care].
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Healthcare experts weigh in.
by Joyce Frieden, News Editor, MedPage Today | January 05, 2018
Congress has a long list of healthcare issues it may deal with in the coming year -- Medicare and Medicaid reform, reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and lowering high drug prices, to name a few. Which one is likely to be the Number One priority?
MedPage Today asked a few experts for their thoughts on this question. Here are their responses:
Daniel Derksen, MD, director of the Arizona Center for Rural Health, University of Arizona: “The top priority in early 2018 will be funding crucial programs including Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP beyond the stopgap continuing resolution that ends January 19th ... Congress would do well to focus on health policy issues with broad bipartisan support such as reauthorizing CHIP for the long term, reforming professional liability insurance, and holding the pharmaceutical industry accountable for skyrocketing medication costs.”
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By Mark Brodie - KJZZ's The Show