Pen Bay Medical Center this week reported a 62.7-percent decrease in opioid doses prescribed since 2015 and a 33-percent drop in total number of patients receiving opioid prescriptions. Kendra Emery, PBMC’s medical director of community health, attributed some of the change to “a clinical shift based on evidence, practice, policy and law.”

“But I do not think policies alone drove this change in prescribing,” she said. “I give credit to our providers, who for more than five years have been having challenging and compassionate conversations with their patients about pain management.”

Despite a 15-percent drop in overdose deaths in Maine in 2018, many Mainers are still affected by opioid addiction. For this reason, PBMC has a standing order for Naloxone available at the pharmacy at Pen Bay Medical Center, meaning that any patient can ask for Naloxone without a prescription. Naloxone is a life-saving medication that is used to counter the effects of drugs like heroin and prescription narcotics.

A free community Naloxone education session is planned for Wednesday, September 25, at Rockland Congregational Church from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Doses of free Naloxone due to arrive from the state will be distributed through Pen Bay Medical Center practices and the emergency room as soon as they are available.

“We have made significant progress in reducing opioid prescriptions in the community, but there is still much work to do,” Emery said. “We are working hard to create a culture of compassion, safety and support around the use of opioids, opioid use disorder and chronic pain management.”