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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
September 19, 2018     Feather River Bulletin
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September 19, 2018

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Feather River Bulletin Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018 7,-L Meg Upton Staff Writer The State of California called Plumas County Public' Health to ask a favor -- an honor really. Since Plumas County became the county in the state with the best track record of dealing with opioid addiction, might it help others do so as well? Share its successes and be a model others can learn from? That's a tall order, of course, but Plumas County Public Health was up to the task. The conference focused on rural topics in a rural setting with funding from the state for the one-time conference. That was the seed idea that got the ball rolling for Plumas County Public Health Services to play host to 115 people representing various counties and agencies in California, Nevada and Oregon, as well as the Midwest and even France to converge on Quincy on Aug. 27 through 29 to learn from each other how to best address opioid addiction in their areas. From 2011 to 2014, Plumas County had the dubious honor of having the worst opioid addiction problem in the state. The county has turned itself around. Others wanted to know how. It was by all accounts a rousing success. Public Health Health Education Coordinator James Wilson attributed the success to the comprehensive approach his agency took in presenting their approach -- one that emphasizes harm reduction, prevention and partnerships with other agencies. "James Wilson is being modest, but the coalitions of people and partnerships we have are doing tremendous The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development California State Director Kim Dolbow Vann fiighlighted a partnership in Plumas County that will support opioid abuse treatment, t)revention and recovery services Sept. 10. "Opioid misuse affects health, quality of life and long-term rural prosperity throughout many of our rural communities in California," said Vann. "Reliable equipment for rural first responders is vital in providing life-saving assistance for victims of the opioid epidemic." Eastern Plumas Health Care District was awarded a $145,000 grant through USDA Rural Development's Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant program to purchase an ambulance and related equipment to provide work -- that's why California honors and recognizes Plumas County as a leader," said Plumas County Health Education Coordinator Zach Revene. Wilson has brought together law enforcement, the district attorney and public health agencies for buy-in and support to tackle the addiction epidemic together. Andrew Woodruff, acting director at Plumas County Public Health Agency, had this to say, "Rural communities have a special ability to work together to respond to the local health needs. Harm reduction is not a new concept, it's embedded in the work that health departments are already continuously doing: making changes (programmatic, p01icy-related, structural) to improve the population's health." It's the partnerships that make tackling this epidemic in Plumas County unique. "The consistency of partnership building, and being a stab!eentity, the state knows it can count on Plumas County," said Wilson. What made the conference successful in both Wilson's and Revene's estimation was the realistic and bare bones approach that can often be lacking in purely academic sessions. Presenters like Matt Curtis, opened a dialogue for the attendees to talk about what was happening in their regions. The presenters often presented straight from real life situations -- one woman with her own past struggles with addiction stood out to organizer Revene. "Addiction is touching everyone's lives. The conference addressed not just the academics of it, but the real experience of it," Said Revene. A formerly homeless reliable emergency services and address the opioid crisis in Plumas County. From 2009-2013, Plumas County led the state in opioid-related overdose deaths and in 2017, it had the highest reported per capita rate of opioid prescriptions in the state, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. USDA invested nearly $1.5 million through the Community Facilities program in 19 projects throughout the state to support opportunities for opioid prevention, treatment and recovery. The total national investment is $10.7 million in 85 projects in 22 states through the program. USDA has many resources that can be used to help communities address the opioid epidemic. Earlier this summer, the department Plumas County Public Health Agency hosted a three-day confereilce at the Town Hall Theatre in downtown Quincy, Aug. 27 through~29, attended by 115 representatives from the west, mid-west and even from as far away as France. Photo submitted woman described health agency officials in another town handing out condoms to be safe. What would have made her safe she said, was a blanket, so she didn't feel the need to have to go home with someone. Controversy often follows the concept of "harm reduction" -- the idea that given realistic addict behavior one must address the issue not in punishment or abstinence, but in trying to make the ill-advised and often illegal activity less unsafe for the addict. An anecdote that stays with Revene is from a presenter who likened harm reduction with addicts to teaching sex education with abstinence only. That works until it doesn't work. There are more gradations than black and white. Clean and sober. Harm reduction seeks to bridge the in between. Other analogies that sat with Revene and Wilson? Every time there's a car race at American Valley Speedway, there's emergency medical staff at the ready. So, they would argue, why not also be ready for this type of dangerous activity, too? Harm reduction launched an interactive map with information about actions and resources to address the opioid epidemic through prevention, treatment and recovery opportunities. USDA also has developed a Rural Opiold Misuse webpage to help communities share information about best practices to address the crisis. USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in 'rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed Internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit and on Twitter @CaliforniaRD. acknowledges that between addiction and abstinence is where most addicts live. They discussed addressing opposition to helping addicts maintain some semblance of safety while using. Many communities frown upon needle exchange programs and other ideas aimed at getting addicts to be safer in their activities to stop the spread of HIV and other diseases. "We have science-based, health-based outcomes," said Revene. "This is keeping people safe." A particularly helpful aspect of the conference was the specificity of addressing addiction in rural communities and acknowledging that small communities have different needs and that addiction looks different here. Many of the conference attendees also came from rural areas and were eager to share information and stories involving struggles of addiction that is particular to rural areas. The rural county representatives were able to exchange information on planning and engagement with their communities and to look at the potential impacts harm reduction programs could have in the area. "We have what it takes in this community to prevent more individuals and families from suffering these avoidable consequences. To do this, we must acknowledge that many people may not ever stop using drugs, but rather that people who use drugs are part of the rich fabric of our community and they deserve access to services so they may live safe and dignified lives," said Woodruff. In addition to the content of the conference came the smooth logistics. They set the conference downtown in three locations: Town Hall Theatre, West End Theatre and the Quincy Library Conference Room. The three locations ensured that out-of-town conference attendees could put the agency's experience in the context of Quincy. In this way too, the location meant that conference attendees walking to and from the conference sessions would be walking by restaurants and stores in Quincy. A mini-tourist promotion, if you will. They could see hosting such an event again in the future. "we loved seeing it up there on the marquee at the Town Hall Theatre," said Revene. Lunches were made by Carey Candy C6. and snacks provided by Sean Connery's culinary students from Feather River College. "We encouraged everyone to go downtown and see our town," said Wilson. Local videographer Diego Lozano filmed the conference and a public Plumas County Public Health Opioid Conference YouTube channel has been set up for viewers with uploads of the sessions for public viewing. What is Measure B? it's an attempt It would expose our children to to sell commercial cannabis to us by even more cannabis and increase promising "a thriving local economy:' their chances of use and addiction. It would allow the growing of up to a million pounds of bud by up to 50 farms and most would be exported. It would fill Plumas with the stink of grow after grow of pot plants and encourage the wrong kind of tourism. It would increase the likelihood of private security, guard dogs, intrusive lights, ugly fences and more crime. It would provide a monopoly II II for pnorityres dents thatwould trigger lawsuits against our county. Is Measure B good for Plumas? Are mosquitos good for camping? (More reasons to Vote NO coming soon. VgT[HOenB NO COMMESCSAL CANNABIS R nt Making you our #1 priority is CLU I~1~, Agent Lic##OB68653 what's made State Farm #1" 65W. MainStreet in auto insurance. I'm here to Quincy, CA 95971 Sus:m-2eS-O listen to your needs and to ,/avw.rlchardslocklon.u$ help life go right. "Based on written premium as reported by SNL Financial 2014. Mondays T#gsd y$ Wednesdays [r Th/g/'sdays : e&o nkdi r men--u-items! 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