The manager listened to Piccolo’s instructions on how to use Narcan, the brand name of naloxone, and added four boxes of nasal spray to the hotel’s first aid kit.
The transaction took less than 10 minutes. It was his third hotel, which Piccolo visited on his hot July day, in Livingston, a mountain town of about 8,000 people. There, as in many parts of the country, health officials are concerned about the recent increase in the use of the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
It was the first time the local health department provided door-to-door training and supplies to prevent overdose deaths. The underlying strategy was built during a pandemic when public health officials distributed rapid testing and vaccines in high-risk settings.
“We’ve learned this from covid,” said county public health officer Dr. Laurel Desnick. “We go to people who may not have time to come to us.”
The pandemic has exposed gaps and disparities in the U.S. public health system and has often led to backlash against local authorities seeking to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But his one positive result, bolstered in part by increased federal funding, is that health care workers can apply lessons learned from the response to covid-19 to other aspects of their jobs. It started.
Some of these adaptations will cost little, such as using vans purchased with covid relief money to deliver vaccines or test for illness, and will be relatively easy to incorporate into the department’s post-pandemic work. Other tools are more expensive and time consuming, such as updating covid-borne data and surveillance systems, for use in other ways.
Some public health workers fear the lessons woven into their work will be lost once the pandemic has passed.
“When a public health crisis hits the country, it tends to create a cycle of funding booms and busts,” said Adriane Casalotti of the National Association of County and City Health Officials.
Some federal pandemic relief funds are set to last for years, but other allocations have already dried up. Local health workers will prioritize what they will fund with what is left.
“We should not just start where we were two and a half years ago, but actually climb higher mountains,” Casarotti said. “But where we have been able to build parts of the system, we can adapt them to help us understand public health challenges in more real time.”
“This program has the power to demonstrate the scalable effects of equitable access to historically underserved communities,” said Joshua, director of the county’s sexual health program. O’Neill said in a press release announcing the kit.
Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Alison Alwadi said her team is expanding its covid data-driven approach to track and report neighborhood-level data on opioid drug overdoses. rice field. Nonprofits and city agencies that have worked together throughout the pandemic meet monthly to look at numbers to shape the response.
Alwadi said the city is looking to use the funding and increased interest from the pandemic for programs that will continue beyond the COVID-19 emergency.
“We have this debate every day, ‘How long can it last? How big can it go?'” Aarwadi said. “We feel that right now is the moment. We have shown what we can do during COVID-19.
Separately, community-based organizations set up to deal with COVID-19 contact tracing and education are shifting their focus to addressing food security, violence prevention and diabetes education. Arwady is using a patchwork of grants to keep his 150 of his 600 people initially employed through pandemic relief funds to reach grassroots public outreach in areas with longstanding health disparities. He said he wanted to continue his hygiene efforts.
“The message I’ve really been passing on to the team is, ‘This is our chance to do something we’ve wanted to do for a long time,'” Arwady said. “We built part of it. We kick and scream before we tear it all down.”
Back in Montana, Desnick said not all changes depend on funding.
When floodwaters destroyed buildings and infrastructure in and around Yellowstone National Park in June, the Park County Department of Health used lists of contacts collected during the pandemic to help schools, churches, and businesses. sent an update to
Desnick has a regular public health video that starts with COVID case numbers and expands to include information on flood levels, federal cleanup assistance, and ice cream socials for people to meet first responders. post an update.
Piccolo, the county health director, traveled about an hour that day in July to a hotel in central Livingston to provide opioid overdose response training and equipment. Three hotel her managers accepted her offer, two asked her to come back after her, and one scheduled training for all staff later that week. Piccolo plans to expand the program to restaurants and music venues.
Such adaptations to her work do not require a continuous stream of covid aid. Otherwise, “just take your time doing this,” she said.
KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism on health issues. KHN is one of the three main operating programs of KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation), along with policy analysis and polls. KFF is a donated non-profit organization that provides information on health issues to the public.
Fix: Kaiser Health News updated the caption to correct Dr. Laurel Desnick’s title.