*** MEDIA ADVISORY ***
New Report on Opioid Crisis in Western Massachusetts To Be Released and Discussed at Health Policy Forum at UMass Amherst
DATE: Friday, Sept. 6, 2019
TIME: 8 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
WHAT: Massachusetts Health Policy Forum: Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Small and Rural Communities
in Western Massachusetts
WHERE: University of Massachusetts Amherst, Campus Center Auditorium, 1 Campus Center Way, Amherst
WHO: Research panelists include Elizabeth Evans, assistant professor, UMass Amherst School
of Public Health and Sciences; Dr. Peter Friedmann, associate dean for research, UMMS-Baystate,
and chief research officer, Baystate Health; Constance Horgan, professor and director
at Brandeis University’s Institute for Behavioral Health; and Ph.D. student Robert Bohler,
Institute for Behavioral Health
The Massachusetts Health Policy Forum, in partnership with The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation and support from RIZE Massachusetts, Baystate Health and UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, will discuss a new report that examines the disproportionate impacts of opioid use disorder on the small, rural communities of Western Massachusetts.
The event, which includes a welcome from UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and Massachusetts Health Policy Forum Chairman Philip Johnson, as well as video remarks from U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, is open to the media. Some 440 attendees have registered for the forum, including such Western Massachusetts political leaders as state Sen. Jo Comerford and state Reps. Michael Finn, Lindsay Sabadosa and John Velis.
Moderated by Greenfield Community College President Yves Salomon-Fernandez, the research panel will discuss the report’s findings. Then a stakeholder panel will address the challenges and explore the innovative approaches underway to tackle the crisis.
“Forums like this one will help develop effective intervention and treatment strategies for Western Massachusetts and other rural settings,” Evans said. “It is critically important to provide evidence-based approaches in order to prevent opioid misuse and overdose.”
Stakeholder panelists include Debra McLaughlin, coordinator of Franklin County’s Opioid Task Force; Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington; Dr. Ruth Potee, director of Addiction Services at Behavioral Health Network; Liz Whynott, director of Harm Reduction at Tapestry; and Deirdre Calvert, director of the Bureau of Substance Abuse Addiction Services, Massachusetts Department of Public Health.