SOUTH COAST — In the local battle against the opioid epidemic, Kate Frame is the linchpin in bringing solutions together.
Advanced Health was approached by the Oregon Health Authority, asking if it would facilitate a grant from the Center of Disease Control. According to Frame, this is not the type of grant Advanced Health has ever administered in the past, but once it saw the local work being done on the opioid crisis, it agreed.
“After they agreed to house the grant, they hired my position,” said Frame, the prescription drug overdose prevention coordinator through Advanced Health, someone now identified as a driving force in bringing the Oregon South Coast toward an opioid epidemic-free future. “My job is to take all that work that’s already happening here and create an alignment between partners, to create a regional approach to solve the problem.”
The first thing Frame learned after stepping into her new role six months ago was that there were already effective solutions in place. The OHA data dashboards showed that overprescribing had gone down in Coos County, meaning physicians were following the prescribing guidelines.
“All the different systems were doing their part, but where there was room to grow was connecting them and helping them recognize what each system was doing in order to create collaboration,” Frame explained. “Another part of my job is not just to call out what’s working, but to demonstrate to the public where we’ve had success.”
Frame has been working with a local video production company, Neptune Birch, to develop documentary-type videos detailing the successes seen locally. For example, in 2015 the county held a large heroin/opioid taskforce conference at the Mill Casino. It was after that when North Bend Police Chief Robert Kappelman convened a group to meet regularly on the issue. When the topic of naloxone came up, which is a life-saving drug that stops overdoses, Tim Novotny from Bay Cities Ambulance offered training and supply of naloxone.
“Now both Coos Bay and North Bend law enforcement carry it, which is a big accomplishment that no other community in Oregon has achieved so far,” Frame said. “From the data standpoint, when they administer it, the information shows up on first responder data so we can keep track.
According to that data, which Frame emailed to The World, in the first quarter of 2018 there were 20 reported EMS runs with naloxone.
“This number captures both first responder and law enforcement naloxone administration because of the partnership our police forces have with Bay Cities Ambulance,” Frame wrote in that email. “Because Bay Cities Ambulance supplies and reports on their naloxone administration, it assists us with tracking naloxone access and use in our community, which is something other communities are still trying to figure out how to do.”
Frame has created a “relationship” map surrounding the local opioid project, which illustrates where there is leverage and connection, as well as room to grow. This helps her know where the group can move forward, when to apply for more funding, and what still needs work.
Another major accomplishment from the 2015 heroin/opioid taskforce is that Adapt is opening an opioid treatment program in North Bend this summer.
“It’s going to be on the waterfront,” Frame said. “It will be brand new, with a methadone clinic and classes. They have worked hard to get that program standing up.”
This is a big deal for the Oregon South Coast because previously when people needed treatment, they had to travel to Roseburg or Eugene. When they did this, as Frame put it, “they weren’t able to have lives or assimilate back into society after treatment.”
“Our goal with this work is to create a recovery-ready community,” she said. “We want a system of care so any person can access support they need here in order to be successful, be healthy and live their lives.”
When she began connecting services together, she realized that the South Coast already has every component developed. According to Frame, the opioid treatment program was the final piece.
“Where we want to make the shift happen now is the community’s perception with opioids and the risk involved,” she said.
Getting community support and understanding is important because Coos County has one of the highest overdose hospitalization percentages. Though the county doesn’t have a high overdose death rate, Frame said those statistics are rising.
“We hope with de-prescribing and providing community support and treatment that we can curb that death,” she said. “It’s just a matter of everyone doing their part.”
When Frame has spoken with people about the opioid crisis, she has found that 98 percent have a personal experience. Either their daughter, brother, parent, or friend fell victim to the addiction.
“No one is exempt and we are all at risk,” she said. “Knowing how to bring the solution to our community and continue to do what’s working is how we can solve this problem.”