Employees from the pharmaceutical distribution center in Auburn, WA, volunteered their time last Saturday to share Generation Rx messages at a local public health fair, talking to hundreds of their neighbors about the dangers of prescription drug misuse.
“Our employees are really involved in the community,” says Tim Spillane, the DC’s operations manager. “So when the mayor asked us to participate in the health fair, it seemed like a great opportunity.”
Saturday’s event kicked off “Healthy Auburn for Life,” an initiative of Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus and other community leaders to make the city the healthiest in the state by 2020.
Currently, this is one of the least healthy areas of the state. Auburn, a city of 80,000 people in industrial south King County, sits northeast of Tacoma and southeast of Seattle. A 2015 health assessment showed that life expectancy here is 13 years shorter than in other parts of the county, thanks to the prevalence of mental health issues, substance abuse, obesity, diabetes, low income, unemployment and other issues.
King County also has been hit hard with the opioid epidemic. In 2014 (the most recent year for which data is available), 97 King County residents died of prescription opioid overdose, and 156 died from heroin overdose. Reducing abuse of opioids and other substances is a priority area of “Healthy Auburn for Life.”
“The messages of Generation Rx were a perfect fit for the event,” Tim says.
Generation Rx, a comprehensive suite of age-appropriate resources to increase awareness about prescription drug misuse, has four simple messages:
- Only use prescription medications as directed by a health professional.
- Never share your prescription medications, and never use someone else’s prescription medications.
- Always store your medications securely, and properly dispose of medications that you no longer need.
- Model these safe medication-taking practices and discuss the dangers of misusing prescription drugs with your family, friends, colleagues, students or patients.
“We printed out the Generation Rx resources for kids, adults and seniors. The reception for the material was phenomenal,” Tim says. “The Mayor and City Council Members, State Senator Joe Fain, and a reporter from Seattle TV KOMO all stopped by our booth for a talk.”
The Cardinal Health booth featured a children’s activities station, which helped capture people’s attention and stop traffic. “We had eight employees there all day—so someone was always available to lead kids in activities while others of us talked to parents.”
The pharma DC’s Generation Rx work is just beginning, Tim adds. “We’re scheduling Cardinal Health employees to teach Generation Rx in the schools, at the local homeless youth center, and at a senior center, as well as at a variety of city events.”