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Deaths from opioid overdoses increased more than 400 percent in rural counties between 1999 and 2016. (Shutterstock photo)

Opioid crisis, 'best community practices' focus of upcoming Ardmore meetings

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Community options for responding to the opioid crisis will be featured during Feb. 20 and March 5 “discussion and exchange” meetings at Mercy Hospital’s Sister Carolyn Stoutz Conference Center in Ardmore.

“Deaths from opioid overdoses increased more than 400 percent in rural counties between 1999 and 2016,” said Brian Whitacre, Oklahoma State University rural development specialist with the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. “From 2015 to 2017, Carter County had an opioid death rate of about 28 per 100,000 people, well above the state average of about 20 deaths per 100,000 people.”

Both the Feb. 20 and March 5 meetings will take place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the conference center, located at 1011 14th Ave. NW. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

“We would very much like people to participate in both meetings, if they could, because of the importance of the subject, the obvious need to develop solutions and the fact each meeting will focus on different aspects of dealing with the crisis,” Whitacre said.

Whitacre added the goal of the meetings is to help participants learn from experts on different approaches for addressing the crisis, hear from and talk with others who regularly deal with opioid abuse and together develop a path forward for the Ardmore community.

The meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 20, will feature:
• A recap of the initial meeting at Mercy Hospital on Feb. 6;
• A documentary showing of “Killing Pain,” parts 4-6;
• An overview of treatment programs by Dr. Layne Subera, a doctor of osteopathic medicine and member of the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse, and Sasha Rogers of Southern Oklahoma Treatment Services;
• A discussion on overdose prevention and recovery with Deputy Chief Kevin Norris of the Ardmore Police Department and Mary Kate Cole of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse;
• Participant views on why the opioid epidemic is occurring in the Ardmore community; and
• A debriefing of the second meeting content and preview of the March 5 meeting.

“It’s not always easy to talk about subjects like the opioid crisis, but as a hospital serving many communities, we believe it is of the upmost importance to work with community stakeholders so that we’re in the best possible position to compassionately serve our patients, no matter their need,” said Marcus A. High, manager of Community Health & Access, Mercy Hospital, Ardmore.

The March 5 meeting will use the “study circle method” wherein participants will share their thoughts on the programs presented, as well as the assets of the Ardmore community that make the programs feasible in the future.

“Each study circle will report on assets the meeting participants feel make the programs feasible, and will then vote as a group about what they believe is the best fit for Ardmore,” Whitacre said. “We will also be conducting a closing survey with participants, which can greatly help with future meetings of this sort, be they in Ardmore or elsewhere.”

Whitacre added participation in the Feb. 20 and March 5 meetings can assist in local organizations receiving future grant funding. “It really is about community service,” he said.

Anyone seeking additional information about the Feb. 20 and March 5 meetings should contact Devon Meadowcroft of the OSU Department of Agricultural Economics by email at or by phone at 405-744-9880.

The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service is one of two state agencies administered by OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, and is a key part of the university’s state and federally mandated teaching, research and Extension land-grant mission.

By Donald Stotts

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