Community efforts help reduce opioid deaths in Horry, Georgetown counties
At Tidelands Health, we’re committed to working with our partners in the community to help combat the region’s devastating opioid epidemic.
New statistics released by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control show encouraging progress on that front in our region.
Although the number of opioid-related fatalities statewide increased substantially last year, the opposite trend took hold in Horry and Georgetown counties, which both experienced significant declines.
In Horry County, the number of opioid-related deaths declined to 77 last year from 101 in 2016, a drop of 24 percent.
In Georgetown, the rate of decline – 48 percent – was the highest in South Carolina. The number of deaths dropped to 14 last year from 27 the year before.
Here’s a look at some of the ways Tidelands Health, through our own efforts and in collaboration with other organizations, has been involved in addressing the problem:
- Many people with substance-abuse disorders come to hospital emergency departments for treatment. Recognizing this touch point as an opportunity, we are participating in an innovative new peer recovery program with Shoreline Behavioral Health Services and the local chapter of Faces and Voices of Recovery, a community group that works to eliminate barriers to substance-abuse recovery.
The goal of the effort, offered at Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital, is to connect individuals interested in recovery with a continuum of support that starts within the hospital and continues into the community.
- A multidisciplinary team established within our health system several years ago is charged with educating our clinical team about alternative treatment options, including certain types of therapy, that may benefit a patient as much as an opioid-based medication.
- Last year, we held a symposium that drew clinicians from across the region interested in learning best practices in pain management and opioid alternatives.
- At our pain management centers, we have implemented a robust monitoring system that requires patients who receive opioid-based medications to sign a contract agreeing to random urine screens and pill counts. The urine screens confirm the presence of the medication in the patient's body, while the pill counts help ensure patients are taking the prescribed dose and not diverting the medication to others.
- We are among several organizations that are jointly funding an ongoing study meant to identify additional ways our community can combat the epidemic within the region.
Although the results of the DHEC report on opioid deaths in our region are heartening, even one death as a result of substance abuse is a tragedy. Tidelands health remains committed to serving as an active partner in halting the epidemic.