#OpioidEpidemic

My brother died of a Fentanyl overdose this year. Next year, he will be included in all the charts and bar graphs showing the thousands of overdose deaths. You won’t see his name, but I will see it, and so will his mother and father and brother, burned on every chart, graph, and state map.

The top story on my bookmarked news page earlier today  was about President Trump declaring the opioid crisis a Public Health Emergency. It is now a mere hours later and the headline is now regarding talks of a major pharmacy player that may potentially puchase the nation’s third largest health insurer. It seems to me this crisis is reduced to the fleeting hashtag level of awareness – here today, gone tomorrow.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of one hundred and seventy five people in the United States died every day last year due to overdose. One hundred and seventy five families devastated a day.

Stats and colorful maps are fantastic eye-catching tools to raise visibility, but we are all Davids and this crisis is the Goliath. When do we stop the bleeding? Who should be held accountable for immediate changes? In my work, it is all about identifying root causes and Corrective Action Plans. We create a Beneficiary Impact Analysis when there is the hint of risk to plan enrollees. When can the collective Davids join up and bring this epidemic to the ground? When will Goliath collapse?

I close this with a link to Virginia Recovery Foundation. These good people educate family members on how to get loved ones the help they need, and your donation will honor my brother. Or, please give to your local community resources.

Find Yourself in Service to Others

If you think about the great expanse that is the United States, there are about 35,000 cities and towns, and of that number, only about 4,000 of those are considered “cities” as defined by a population of 10,000 or more permanent residents. Definitions vary depending where you go, but using this figure as a measure, the majority, like my town, don’t have a high population.

When you support local businesses with your time or your money, you are supporting your neighbors. You are investing in your local economy and helping the community thrive. Local businesses provide alternative options to large chains. No, you might not be able to pick up your favorite flavor of Jell-O at the local mom-and-pop shop, but keeping your neighbors in business benefits you.

Since October 2015, I have served on the Board of Directors at Wood River Health Services in Hope Valley, RI. When I was seeking volunteer opportunities within my small community, this seemed like a natural fit based on my professional experience. Our mission at WRHS is “to improve the health and well-being of our community by assuring access to affordable high quality healthcare, coordinated services, and health related information.”

Giving of your time takes you out of yourself, at the same time provides a window in to yourself. Placing focus on an issue or cause that is important to you not only benefits that cause but also benefits you in your own personal growth. Suze Orman has spoken about volunteering. You should choose wisely where to place your focus. Identify the benefits you get from volunteering. Does it support your career? Does it help you advance your own skill development, all the while making a difference? I like to think WRHS gains from my experience and in return I learn from my peers on the Board.

Regardless of how you spend your time, professionally or personally, make sure it is something you are passionate about. People can tell when you love what you do.

Welcome

I was a voracious writer in school, pouring my all into letters and journals, and then soon in emails and online.  Over time the influx of noise in the media and online, professional obligations and self-imposed pressure halted my personal writing.  My inspirations were long gone and my priorities so different than in the past.  I did not understand what happened to my voice, and chose not to explore why it was gone.

Ancorat is my anchored corner of the web where I’ll document my thoughts as gathered on my own learning exploration.  Perhaps it will inspire others to think about these same issues, or even find the courage to write themselves in their own place of the world.  Themes will vary but will include kindness, health crises, mantras, living and dying well, efficiency, my work in government programs, and philosophy.  Perhaps as I’m writing questions and ideas, solutions will become clear.

Now that the first post is done, pressure gone. Read on and return often.