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District Attorney, Physicians, and Community Address Addiction

­WARE — On June 27, more than 80 people turned out for the Quaboag Hills Community Coalition (QHCC) Substance Use Task Force community dinner held at United Church in Ware. The event provided a forum to discuss the opioid epidemic with treatment providers, a member of the clergy, public health professionals, and Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan. The open discussion covered substance use, harm reduction, treatment options, barriers to care, recovery, and prevention.

Sullivan handed over a donation of $1,500 to Michelle Holmgren, Public Affairs and Community Relations manager for Baystate Health Eastern Region, Baystate Mary Lane Hospital, and Baystate Wing Hospital, and also a member of the board of directors for the QHCC and its Substance Use Task Force. The funding supports the ongoing efforts by the task force to combat the epidemic.

Sullivan also detailed an educational collaboration between his office and Baystate Health to teach student athletes, coaches, parents, athletic directors, and school officials about the interplay between sports injuries, dental work, and pathways to addiction.

Dr. Zachary Marowitz from the Baystate Health Behavioral Health Neuropsychology Department and Dr. Darius Greenbacher, medical director of BMP Sports and Exercise Medicine, will present at mandatory preseason sports meetings for parents and athletes about the impact of concussion and how to deal with it within sports contexts.

In addition, Sullivan’s office commissioned production of a video titled “Athletes, Opioids, and Addiction,” featuring local physician and addiction specialist Dr. Ruth Potee. The 17-minute film aims to educate student athletes, their parents, and coaches about issues of concern when opioids are prescribed for things like sports injuries or dental surgery. The video will be available for screening at the mandatory preseason meetings. Greenbacher and Marowitz will provide education on concussion and answer questions that might arise.

The community forum was sponsored by the Quaboag Hills Community Coalition, Hampshire HOPE, Baystate Health, Behavioral Health Network and the Carson Center at Valley Human Services in Ware, and the Northwestern District Attorney’s office. United Church of Ware provided the venue for the event, and Baystate Health provided the food.

The Quaboag Hills Substance Use Task Force is a diverse group of representatives from public safety, law enforcement, schools, early-childhood programs, businesses, healthcare, clergy, treatment providers, town officials, civic leaders, youth organizations, and families affected by addiction. With funding from Baystate Mary Lane Hospital, the group meets monthly in Ware and welcomes community participation. For more information, visit www.qhcc.weebly.com or e-mail [email protected].

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