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Community meeting at Sentara on Thursday to tackle community’s response to opioid epidemic

WOODBRIDGE — Katey Gemmmell just wants you to STOP.

She’s a registered nurse at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, and she’s put together a new program called Project: STOP — Speaking Out and Teaching Opioid Prevention.

On Thursday night, she’ll join others at a community discussion held at the hospital on the epidemic that has become the opioid crisis not only in the U.S. but in our region.

“People need to feel like they have a positive role to play when it comes to preventing this,” said Gemmell.

The program builds on other symposiums she’s attended in Richmond and Washington, D.C. Attendees will not only get an earful from Gemmell and others in the healthcare industry, but they’ll also see what doctors and nurses must wear while working with a patient who has overdosed — personal, protective equipment, or PPE — to protect themselves from exposure to the deadly narcotic.

There will also be demonstrations on how to inject Naloxone, or Narcan, a nasal injection that serves as an opiate antidote credited with saving the lives overdose patients.

Just this week, Prince William police announced more of its officers would carry the life-saving drug in kits containing two injections. Right now, 36 officers on the force have been trained to use Narcan, and additional training has been ordered for the remainder of the officers on the force.

Since June, Prince William police have investigated 24 fatal overdoses. In 2016, there were 47 deadly incidents.

The epidemic has also prompted changes at the hospital. Sentara introduced a Dilaudid-free emergency room policy, removing the powerful pain medication from ER shelves.

The community discussion begins at 6 p.m. at the Hylton Education Center at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, located at 2300 Opitz Boulevard in Woodbridge.

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