In this Issue
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Diversity Now Series Continues
Many people might have gone through training for the Heimlich maneuver or CPR, or at the very least seen these procedures depicted in film and television.
But what about Narcan?
What is it for? How do you administer it?
Fewer people know that and, in the middle of an opioid epidemic which has a tight grip on the nation, it’s more likely in many ways to encounter someone in need of a dose of Narcan than in need of having a piece of food dislodged from their throat.
In fact, nearly 7,500 individuals in Solano County suffered from an opioid disorder in 2019 alone, with more than 5,000 lacking access to treatment.
Drug Safe Solano and Touro University California have been in partnership on Narcan trainings for nearly a year, and Drug Safe will celebrate its second anniversary – and one-year anniversary with Touro – during a Zoom event, Sept. 21, the details of which will be forthcoming
“Our first Narcan training was in November of 2019,” said Jennifer Redman of Drug Safe Solano. “We have been a part of or conducted 14 Narcan trainings and reached over 563 people.”
Drug Safe Solano has also had thousands of training views for videos posted through social media, as well.
“Our trainings are led by subject matter experts and can be geared toward medical professionals to community to youth,” Redman said.
COM Assistant Professor Christina Kinnevey understands how important Narcan administration can be and has helped Drug Safe Solano in a series of training events designed to get members of the general public access to this critical skill.
“It’s important to have people trained in how to use Narcan and have it available in the community in general because we never know when we might encounter someone who is overdosing,” Kinnevey said.
Opioids can be highly addictive and are synthetic versions of naturally occurring opiates, like opium, which can have adverse effects In fact, some opioid users can become addicted and, in the absence of an opioid prescription, turn to a substance like heroin to cope with the addiction.
But the stereotype of a “drug addict” doesn’t necessarily fit in the opioid epidemic, Kinnevey said. Overdoses can quickly become fatal and aren’t always the result of someone in the throes of a chemical dependency.
“Many of us have family members on opioids and it might be as simple as an elderly grandmother who forgets she took her morning pills already and takes a second dose,” she said. “Or we could encounter someone who overdosed in a public restroom, gas station, library or park. Every second counts when someone is overdosing.”
As fast as first responders tend to be, that’s still sometimes not fast enough for an opioid overdose. Often a person’s life is in the balance based on the abilities of the people immediately on scene.
“Having trained non-medical professionals carry Narcan increases that chance that those people don’t die because by the time EMS is called and arrives on scene, it’s probably going to be too late in many cases,” Kinnevey said. “Many people recognize the benefits of knowing the Heimlich maneuver to help someone who is choking and CPR for someone having a heart attack. But the reality is, in today’s opioid epidemic, the chance of encountering someone who we can save with Narcan might actually be higher than encountering someone who we can save from the Heimlich maneuver or CPR.”
Visit http://www.drugsafesolano.org/opioid-addiction-calendar for more information and to register for upcoming events.
Join Touro University California in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15 – Oct. 15.
The beginning of the celebration was chosen as it is the Independence Day for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile, celebrate their independence just days later, Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.
Originally started as a heritage celebration week in 1968, the observation was expanded to a full month in 1988.
Help Touro celebrate Hispanic history and culture throughout the month. Be sure to look for personal testimonies on social media from Hispanic students, faculty and staff.
Everyone has heard the expression, “dream job.”
It might be easy to think most students at Touro University California will graduate into their own version of a dream job, but without some attention to self-care, anyone’s dream job can quickly become a nightmare.
When Dr. Katie Townes, neonatologist at southern Oregon’s Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, noticed a slide in her own job satisfaction, she conceptualized a website where fellow physicians could build a sense of community and share their stresses and solutions thereto with one another.
Dr. Townes, a Class of 2004 graduate, kicked the idea into full gear once the COVID-19 outbreak took hold in Oregon and she could see the strain it was having on her fellow healthcare workers, as well as the deep isolation being experienced by others.
“I decided to take action because I knew physicians were suffering,” Townes said. “I know the value of community and the power of not feeling alone, and I want to extend this community to others.”
While the website is mainly intended for physicians to connect with one another and learn ways to reduce stress from their job demands, anyone can visit the site and access the services, Townes said.
“People can go to the website to see when our next virtual meeting is and join us – it’s free,” Townes said. “You can read the blog, interact in the community forum, and can also sign up for the newsletter or free guide and we will send out updates.”
And COVID certainly didn’t invent the need for a website like this. The concept of “physician heal thyself,” has been in medicine for generations.
Townes was resistant, like many doctors, to the idea of mindfulness, initially, she said.
“I know empirically minded professionals like myself will remain skeptical,” Townes wrote in a blog post on the topic. “Many of us embrace the stress of being a physician with the utmost enthusiasm,” she continued. “There comes this breaking point, where it’s not that fun anymore to routinely work 80 hours a week, walking around like a zombie and losing empathy for our patients.”
And a broken doctor isn’t any good for anyone. “I eventually came to embrace mindfulness as a practice out of necessity for my sanity,” Townes wrote. “Mindfulness is as much about being aware of your thoughts and feelings, as it is about letting them go.”
The website outlines numerous small but vital steps physicians and others can do to streamline and simplify their lives to help make their personal and professional lives much more fulfilling.
For more information or to register for free, visit physiciansloungeonline.com
Sometimes our paths in life are crystal clear. Other times, the way ahead is muddier.
It’s probably fitting in this way that Class of 2015 MPH grad Esther Min completed her master’s work at a campus located on an island.
It was during her time at Touro, surrounded by other like-minded individuals driven by the notion of social justice, that Min found a passion for clean water.
“I saw that Touro had an emphasis in social justice, which is where my values are ground in,” Min said. “I got interested in environmental justice through Dr. (Trina) Mackie's class with Colin Bailey from the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water as the guest speaker.”
California was in the midst of an historic drought at the time, which only served to reinforce the importance of water as a critical and vital resource.
Min earned her PhD at the University of Washington in June, where there would seemingly be no lack of water supply, but Min says most of the environmental issues that exist in highly impacted communities in California are at play in Washington, as well.
“So many communities struggle with access to clean water, air, and soil, and are paying the ultimate price for it through chronic illnesses,” Min said. “The MPH degree at Touro provided a really strong foundation for how to think about community health, broadening my typical thinking towards individual health.”
Dr. Mackie said Min was a compassionate, dedicated student and seeing her continue down a path of environmental justice has been rewarding.
“I take special pleasure in seeing students continue in my field of environmental health, especially continuing the struggle for environmental justice,” Mackie said. “Esther stayed true to TUCs Public Health Program’s commitment to social justice that we hope our students truly live out.”
She spent a lot of time in the laboratory prior to her PhD and MPH pursuits, but has since discovered a love of working in the community.
“I wanted to focus all my efforts on the public health practice end, and by working with community members directly,” Min said. “I was given the opportunity to work on new and mature partnerships in Washington State, with the sole focus of amplifying community voices and conducting research on community-identified priorities.”
And where the path will take Min following her PhD is anyone’s guess. Given Min’s history until now, she’ll probably go with the flow.
As Fall draws closer, Americans will celebrate a national day of thankfulness.
However, gratitude is something that should be expressed on a daily basis, according to a program presided over by Touro University California’s Rabbi Elchonon Tenenbaum.
Project Gratitude – as in the collective effort of – is a means through which TUC students, faculty and staff can project gratitude, which is to say, emanate or exude that quality such that it might affect others in a positive way.
The concept, Tenenbaum says, stems from the Jewish tradition of acknowledging the basic necessities for life. The concept of gratitude has roots in other spiritual or “new age” realms, as well, and is often a foundation for starting each day on its best note.
“These things give us a platform from which to look at the day and with which attitude,” Tenenbaum said. “It really puts you in a different place to ask, ‘what am I grateful for today,’ and how can you make gratitude a daily ritual?”
“I really appreciate that Rabbi has the sessions on Mondays, which helps me start my week off feeling calmer, motivated, mindful, encouraged, and grateful,” said Teodora (aka Guy) Remo-Aguigui of University Advancement. “During the work week, I try to focus on all these things. I usually have the Monday blues but after Rabbi’s session, I feel so much more positive.”
The most appealing aspect for many is the fact that Project Gratitude is loosely structured and isn’t anchored in any one spiritual construct.
“There’s not really a structure by design,” Tenenbaum said. “Everyone can find a way to connect in their own way.”
The idea of taking a moment, slowing down and pressing the pause or reset button is important, particularly at a campus producing graduates that will enter high-stress fields like education and healthcare.
"Project Gratitude has offered a place of solitude for me during this stressful time of COVID-19,” said Dr. Lisa Norton, Dean of the College of Education and Health Sciences. “Unfortunately, on a personal level, I have two friends who took their lives during COVID-19. Rabbi Tenenbaum has offered us a space to reflect, put things into perspective, and remember our collective support to get through this very difficult time in our lives.”
Rabbi Tenenbaum described a daily focus on gratitude as, “an absolute necessity,” adding, “beginning your day with a proper foundation will pull along everything else behind it,” he said. “Without these things, you’re not performing at an optimum place.”
The best part for busy students and professionals is it takes such a minimal time commitment.
“Just take a few minutes to disconnect and regroup,” Tenenbaum said.
“Since participating in his weekly sessions, I now try not to let the negative things, whatever they may be, get me down and focus more on anything good that might be happening,” Remo-Aguigui said.
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