Early results from Columbia's naloxone implementation plan
Columbia Health Chief of Administration Michael McNeil, EdD, CHES, FACHA, participated in Implementing an Overdose Plan on Campus, alongside an official from Kennesaw State University and moderated by Chris McCaghren, EdD, deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs of the Department of Education.
Dr. McNeil reported that in the first three months, Columbia exceeded the training target set for the entire grant year. The accelerated rate at which the community was trained is in part due to the plan’s emphasis on establishing partnerships and coalitions with stakeholders at every level, from students to high-ranking University officials and internal departments. With unprecedented interest from the campus community, the challenge has been to balance demand for trainings with qualified facilitators and supplies of naloxone kits from the Department of Health.
Columbia's approach to engaging special populations
Another key component of Columbia’s plan was to identify and engage with key student sub-populations who were in close proximity to students who may be more likely to use opioids misuse or are highly connected and influential leaders on campus. Dr. Rachel Shelton discussed research findings based on Columbia’s experience, with representatives from the Zeta Tau Alpha National Fraternal Organization and Association of Recovery in Higher Education in the Working with Special populations on Campus panel, moderated by ONDCP Deputy Director, Kendel Ehrlich. Dr. Shelton presented recommendations for overcoming barriers to participation and facilitating engagement in training among special populations including Veterans, athletes, Resident Advisors, fraternity and sorority members, and students in recovery based on focus group research.
Additional presentations included Naloxone 101, by Surgeon General of the United States, Jerome Adams, MD, MPH.; Naloxone on Campus: A Parent’s perspective, by Co-Founder of Safe Project USA, Mary Winnefeld; and a panel on Mental Health and Records Privacy, featuring representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education.
Attendees were receptive to the information and expressed that the Columbia panelists made the topic easy to understand and demonstrate a promising way forward. Many were interested in bringing naloxone to campuses, keeping the programs sustainable, addressing institutional barriers to implementation, and reducing stigma. Some attendees also raised the issue of looking at underlying mental health concerns linked to opioid abuse.
Columbia Health and its partners are in conversation with the ONDCP to advance the conversation about opioid overdose and college health.