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Dornsife Students Organize Timely Talk on Opioid Interventions During 2017 National Public Health Week

Ingrid Binswanger presents a Population Health Spotlight talk on opioid overdose prevention during National Public Health Week.

April 26, 2017

With the opioid epidemic devastating communities across the country, Dornsife students elected to hear from an innovative expert on opioid overdose reduction for National Public Health Week’s marquee event. The event capped a week of student-led public health awareness activities around Drexel’s University City campus.

Students nominate and select a speaker for the final Population Health Spotlight event each year. This year’s selection, Ingrid Binswanger, MD, MPH, MS, associate professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, presented research and approaches to preventing opioid overdose from her work as a primary care physician at Kaiser Permanente Colorado. 

During her talk, Binswanger described major differences in how we treat patients with opioid use disorder compared to other medical conditions, especially given that the mortality rate for people with opioid use disorder is "astoundingly high,” almost 15 times greater than the general population.   

“If a 19-year-old in a primary care practice was diagnosed with lymphoma, she'd get extensive care,” said Binswanger. "But very few resources are available for a 19-year-old injecting heroin." 

Overdose mortality rates are high during the first week after release from prison.

Binswanger's research has also identified a high rate of death from opioid overdose the first week after being released from prison where, she said, “substance use disorders are not typically treated.” Her research has found that other types of transitions in care or settings - such as the discharge from a hospitalization or the beginning/end of opioid addiction treatment - also increase the risk of overdose.

Binswanger described work that she and her colleagues have conducted within the Kaiser Health System, from implementing standing orders at the pharmacy for members of the public to pick up Naloxone without a prescription, to qualitative research conducted with providers and patients on barriers to preventing overdose.

Watch video of Binswanger’s presentation on demand:  

National Public Health Week also featured a series of events intended to engage the Drexel Dornsife student body on a variety of public health topics.  

  • At an event organized by students in the Maternal and Child Health Working Group, panelists explained how to navigate a professional organization such as APHA and how to take advantage of student leadership opportunities.
  • Students joined the City of Philadelphia’s Spring Clean Up event, volunteering to clean up a local West Philadelphia park.
  • A global health-themed Quizzo session and a movie night featuring “And the Band Played On” provided educational entertainment.
  • Stress reduction and mental health awareness events were held throughout the week.