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Worcester Public Health Grand Rounds details how opioid data can aid prevention efforts, according to Telegram

Lecture organized by Worcester Prevention Research Center at UMMS and Worcester Department of Public Health

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

May 29, 2018

Thomas Land, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Preventive & Behavioral Medicine, presented the inaugural Worcester Public Health Grand Rounds at City Hall on Thursday, May 24.The event was covered by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Dr. Land described how the wealth of information available from state agencies can be analyzed and interpreted to inform ongoing efforts to prevent and treat opioid abuse in Worcester and Central Massachusetts.

“Separately, these pieces of information might not tell a lot. But together, they give insight into complex issues,” according to the article in the Telegram. Dr. Land was instrumental in developing the plan in his previous role as director of the Office of Health Information Policy and Informatics for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The talk, a collaboration of the UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center and the Worcester DPH, was moderated by Worcester Commissioner of Health and Human Services Matilde Castiel, MD. Dr. Castiel, associate professor of medicine at UMMS, is the founder of the Hector Reyes House in Worcester. The residential program for Latino men recovering from substance abuse, many of whom have been incarcerated, established Reyes Café, a Cuban eatery that serves as a job training site for the men.

The data analysis revealed that the vast majority of those who died of an opioid-related overdose in Massachusetts from 2011 to 2015 did not have a prescription for an opioid within one month of death.

“This gives you an insight into the amount of opioids being diverted to other persons,” said Land.

The analysis also showed that the risk of opioid-related overdose death among people who had been incarcerated is 120 times the risk of the general population.

This points to the urgent need for better drug treatment in jail and upon release, said Castiel.

“We’ve been working on the re-entry piece, we’ve been working on medication-assisted treatment in the jail,” Castiel said, according to the Telegram. “That re-entry service needs to be huge.”

Related stories on UMassMedNow:
New grand rounds series to focus on Greater Worcester public health topics
UMMS experts participate in Worcester City Hall forum on opioid crisis
New Cuban eatery giving Latino recovering addicts a fresh start