SGCMH, MU Extension join to combat drug abuse

5/13/2022

Ste. Genevieve, MO – Joining forces with the University of Missouri Extension, Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital (SGCMH) has recently received a grant to help combat drug use.

Mary Bleckler, Community Champion for the hospital helped to facilitate the grant.

“As community champion, my role is to bring community and healthcare closer together for healthier outcomes within our community,” she said. “We’re excited to have received funding for this very important project.”

The RX Cares for Missouri program, administered by the Missouri Board of Pharmacy, is intended to provide programs or education to promote medication safety, or prevent prescription drug abuse and misuse.

“For the year 2021, deaths related to drug use had risen to 11 in our community, compared to five the previous year,” said Bleckler. “So we’re really pushing prevention. We’ve partnered with the MU Extension and the Resources to Recovery group.”

Bleckler said she and her community partners will bring resource materials, handouts, speaker presentations and programs to the schools, concentrating specifically on ages 9-12.

“Prevention and education are so important to curbing the trend of drug abuse,” said Bleckler. “We will also focus on stopping the stigma that many people feel when seeking help. We want people to know that there is help available and there is no shame in needing help.”

Estrella Carmona, County Engagement Specialist at the MU Extension, said she’s looking forward to partnering with the hospital to raise awareness of substance abuse and addiction in our county as well as the resources in our community that will lead them to recovery.

“Substance abuse is a problem across Missouri,” Carmona said. “Sometimes these issues are deemed an urban problem but given our close proximity and easy access to drugs, our community isn’t that much different.”

Given the fact that fentanyl has become so prevalent and dangerous, she said the messaging may need to be updated.

“Just say no may not be the answer,” she said. “It’s about having people understand the risk they’re taking when they say ‘yes.’ We also have a plan to raise awareness of the negative impact not only on the individual using the drugs, but also the negative impact it can have on family members.”

The RX Cares for Missouri program will last for two years, but Bleckler and Carmona hope to extend that as the need will last far longer.

Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital is a nonprofit county owned community hospital that works to continue to improve the health and well-being of the community. Our professional staff uses advanced technology and medicine to provide excellent, personalized, and compassionate healthcare. For more information on Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital, visit stegenevievehospital.org.

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