John Lloyd’s recovery from drug addiction has blazed a path for others.
Franklin County District Attorney Matt Fogal supports a law enforcement process where drug offenders can be given opportunity before extended prison sentences.
WellSpan Health has been a partner for their efforts every step of the way.
Saturday, the players behind the fight against opioid addiction team up for the 5th annual Home Run Derby to Fight Drug Addiction at Greene Township Park, beginning at 9 a.m. This year, money raised through sponsorship and participation on the field benefits Gracie’s Place, a substance abuse recovery home for women and affiliate of Noah’s House.
Registration for home run derby participants at the event opens at 8 a.m. and the cost is $20. Vendors are also expected at the event where masks will be available and social distancing will be strongly encouraged.
While not every baseball that flies off the bat is a home run, WellSpan’s unwavering support in fighting drug addiction is committed to going the distance.
In addition to being the title sponsor for this year’s home run derby, representatives of WellSpan are active members of the Franklin County Overdose Task Force as well as board members at Noah’s House and work closely with the Franklin County District Attorney’s Office.
“It’s no surprise to me that WellSpan is one of our biggest partners in this fight because they see everyday effects of what is happening in our community,” said Fogal, who formed the county’s overdose task force in 2015.
“The entire nation has woken up this year and recognized how important our health care providers are and how critical they are to our lives. WellSpan has been on the front lines of the opioid crisis just as they have been on the front lines of COVID-19. They need to be applauded.”
As Franklin County has been entrenched in the opioid battle, WellSpan’s Opioid Stewardship committee has sustained an effort to appropriately reduce the prescription of opioids to its patients by setting goals for its providers and using metrics to monitor the effectiveness of the initiative.
Dr. Tom Anderson, Vice President of Medical Affairs for WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital and WellSpan Waynesboro Hospital, says his teams focus on increasing appropriate use of non-pharmacologic pain therapies and non-opioid pain medications such as massage, heat/cold applications, aroma therapy and meditation so opioids are only used when needed, reducing the risk of more people becoming dependent.
“When opioids are prescribed, the goal is to start at the appropriate lowest dose and always have a plan to decrease and discontinue its use,” Anderson noted. “The reduction of opioid prescribing has been significant and large initial reductions may have been a result of eliminating unnecessary and wasteful opioid prescriptions.”
From 2016-2018, Anderson says that there was a 30% drop in prescribed opioids in Franklin County and prescriptions have continued to drop through 2020. The health system continues to make progress, but Anderson says some opioid use is necessary for patients undergoing major surgeries or experiencing an injury or medical condition with acute pain. The goal is responsible prescribing, with supported plans to get patients off the medications at the appropriate time.
“We know there are big challenges in this work,” Anderson said, “But our teams are committed to this work. We are doing our necessary part to prevent Opioid Use Disorder while supporting the needs of our patients. We are proud of the work we are doing within our walls, and out in the community with our partners to ensure we are supporting our friends and neighbors in all ways we can.”
Building a team
Fogal co-founded the home run derby in 2016 while his relationship with Lloyd began to strengthen and yield positive results.
Lloyd, who grew up outside of Baltimore, founded Noah’s House, a men’s recovery facility in 2015, and later started Gracie’s Place. The facilities which Lloyd serves as executive director, are named after his son, who has been his “catalyst for sobriety” throughout the past eight years and daughter.
“It’s my life’s work. I feel like I am an example that we do recover and I want others to have that chance,” Lloyd said.
While running two recovery facilities often leads to an 18-hour day, Lloyd also serves as a recovery liaison for the county’s Get Back Up initiative which helps drug addicts navigate through the recovery process and supports them through any pending litigation. That role often has Lloyd on call around the clock as he has even left home run derbies to assist a person who had just overdosed.
He humbly admits that none of the progress made in Franklin County would have been possible without Fogal’s influence and WellSpan’s guided support.
“Matt was the second board member at Noah’s House and he has been instrumental in this process. Most of the time drug offenders are running from a district attorney or parole officers, but he has a passion for being an advocate first,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd also said that Noah’s House and Gracie’s Place may not be standing today without the financial support and health care partnership from WellSpan Health.
“(WellSpan) has backed us through grant opportunities, and they are the biggest partner we have in the health field. They understand clinically what is going on and they have gone out of their way to help men and women get the services they need,” Lloyd explained.
Through efforts on all fronts, Fogal says that he has seen some positive headway since 46 fatal overdoses in 2016 to 26 in 2019.
“This wouldn’t be possible without everyone coming to the table. The WellSpan, formerly Summit family, has been at that table for as long as I have been involved with this issue. They are great teammates,” Fogal said.