Around 900 University at Buffalo students participated in a forum addressing opioid addiction at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences on Thursday. The forum has hosted nearly 3,000 students, across 12 different health profession disciplines over its four years.
Dr. Patricia Ohtake said the idea is to educate students entering this particular workforce about opioid addiction and strategies for caring for individuals who are going through the process of getting clean.
“Ideas, professional expertise, recommendations, treatment strategies,” she said. “By bringing our students together, they start to learn, ‘oh this is what social work does, this is what PT does, this is what OT, Occupational Therapy does.’”
Ohtake said once students know who among them is doing specific work, once they graduate, they will be more likely to refer their patients to different providers and make a difference in a person’s life.
Learning how to take a person-centered, and population-centered approach, Ohtake said, is another key principle of the forum. Through a collaboration between the County Department of Health, law enforcement, and the Judicial System, opioid related overdose deaths in Erie County have fallen over the past two years.
“We really, in Erie County, have education of our students on the person-centered level,” she said. “And really using community approaches to change policies and procedures.”
As of the first of November there have been 87 reported deaths, and health official’s estimate between 100 and 125 overdose deaths for 2019. 301 overdose deaths were reported in Erie County in 2016.