Cempa Community Care Takes Bold Approach To Tackling Opioid Epidemic

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Now more than ever, Chattanooga sees the importance in offering support to individuals facing mental and substance use disorders and create environments and relationships that promote acceptance throughout our city. Since 2011, opioid injection drug use in Tennessee has increased 38%, and Tennessee’s drug-related deaths have increased 40%. In addition, there was a 364% increase in the number of cases of acute Hepatitis C infection from 2006 to 2012 among persons under the age of 30. Too many people are still unaware that prevention with individuals facing mental and substance use disorders work, and that these disorders can be treated, just like other health problems. 

The Syringe Trade and Education Program of Tennessee (STEP TN), initiated and operated by Cempa Community Care, takes a bold approach in tackling the underlying community health concerns created by the opioid epidemic. In recognition of National Recovery Month, STEP TN hosted a Lunch & Learn inviting local organizations and agencies to collaborate on how to help individuals who inject drugs to enroll in evidence-based treatment. National Recovery Month raises awareness of mental and substance use disorders, celebrates individuals in long-term recovery, and acknowledges the work of prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.

STEP TN and local organizations, including testing centers, rehabilitation facilities, and law enforcement discussed the new syringe trade program and the opportunities for making recovery resources available to individuals who inject drugs. Ashley Ewald, Harm Reduction manager at Cempa Community Care, shared with community members how STEP TN began in March 2018.  STEP TN’s purpose is to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, and other bloodborne diseases. The program also seeks to reduce needle stick injuries to law enforcement officers and other emergency personnel and encourage individuals who inject drugs to enroll in evidence-based treatment.

Ewald said, “It is important that we collaborate our efforts and work together to help individuals battling drug abuse find the support they need. It can be as simple as taking the time to listen to someone’s personal story.” So much more can be accomplished by bringing STEP TN, law enforcement, and recovery organizations together to have a conversation about substance abuse challenges. Lindsey Ivester, Pre-Arrest Diversion Program Coordinator at Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System said, “These types of harm reduction models have been used all across the country and research shows that they have proven to be effective.”

A common myth is that syringe exchange programs encourage, enable or increase drug use, as well as crime. Research from the World Health Organization and American Medical Association shows this is not true. In fact, many studies show that syringe exchange programs decrease drug use by connecting people to treatment.  Ewald said, “This is a public health issue, not a criminal justice issue.”  It is estimated that syringe exchange program participants are five times more likely to enter drug treatment than non-participants. Ewald said, “Syringe exchange programs actually support recovery by linking an otherwise marginalized population into treatment and other services.” STEP TN looks forward to continuing to collaborate with community organizations to provide individuals with the support and recovery services they need. 


Ridgedale Baptist Church’s Senior Adult Choir Performs At Morning Pointe

Parkridge Valley West Opens 28-Bed Acute Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit At Parkridge West Hospital

Shaw Family Dental Center Opens In Dalton


For the past 10 years, the senior adult choir from Ridgedale Baptist Church has been filling the halls of Morning Pointe Senior Living communities throughout the Chattanooga area with the sounds ... (click for more)

Parkridge Valley West – formerly Mountainview Treatment Center in Jasper – has relocated acute inpatient behavioral health services to a newly renovated, approximately 15,000 square-foot space ... (click for more)

Shaw Industries Group, Inc., a floorcovering provider, announced the opening of the Shaw Family Dental Center. In celebration, Shaw held a grand opening on Friday, giving associates the opportunity ... (click for more)


Living Well

Ridgedale Baptist Church’s Senior Adult Choir Performs At Morning Pointe

For the past 10 years, the senior adult choir from Ridgedale Baptist Church has been filling the halls of Morning Pointe Senior Living communities throughout the Chattanooga area with the sounds of singing. The choir visited the residents of Morning Pointe of Chattanooga – Shallowford recently with their renditions of gospel favorites. “The choir entertained our residents with ... (click for more)

Parkridge Valley West Opens 28-Bed Acute Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit At Parkridge West Hospital

Parkridge Valley West – formerly Mountainview Treatment Center in Jasper – has relocated acute inpatient behavioral health services to a newly renovated, approximately 15,000 square-foot space on the second floor of Parkridge West Hospital. In celebration of the unit’s grand opening, there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, Nov. 27, at 10 a.m., followed by an open house ... (click for more)

Breaking News

County Putting $10 Million Toward New Shelter For Humane Education Society

County officials are committing $10 million toward a new shelter for the Humane Education Society (HES). Only Commissioner Tim Boyd spoke against the allocation at a commission meeting on Wednesday. He said a more urgent need was a $5 million training center for police, fire and emergency workers. County Finance Director Albert Kiser said the county came up with a total $14 ... (click for more)

Several Large Trucks Get Stuck On Lookout; 1 Demolishes Wall On Ochs Extension

Lookout Mountain, Tn., Commissioner Jim Bentley said there has been a lot of concern with large trucks on Ochs Highway. In the past month five different trucks have been stuck at the top of the road. Additionally, a large truck hit and demolished the rock wall at the top curve on Ochs Extension. These roads are both owned and maintained by the city of Chattanooga. Commissioner ... (click for more)

Opinion

Thanks To First Volunteer Bank

Thank you to the Highway 58 branch of First Volunteer Bank. On behalf of the Ernie Pyle Chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, I would like to express our appreciation to the manager and staff of the HIghway 58 Branch of First Volunteer Bank for putting on a Veterans Day lunch in the lobby of your bank on Friday, Nov. 9. It was a cold and rainy day and Army, Marines ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s A Racist Thing

Being a child of the South, I’ve marveled at our funny sayings for all of my life. I’ve been at a football game and heard a disgruntled fan in the stands say of his team’s quarterback, “That boy couldn’t play dead in a cowboy movie.” I’ve been at the Sunday supper table and heard, “I’m of a mind each one of his sermons is better than the next.” And I’ve sat in a Saturday morning ... (click for more)