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Department of Nursing to host opioid addiction conference September 16

ISSUED: 31 August 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — The Shepherd University Department of Nursing is hosting a conference that will explore the region’s growing opioid problem. The conference, titled “The Hidden Epidemic of Opioid Abuse in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle,” will take place Friday, September 16, from 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at Erma Ora Byrd Hall.

The conference, which will offer seven continuing education units through the West Virginia Board of Nursing, is part of the Department of Nursing’s commitment to the White House Champions of Change fight to advance prevention, treatment, and recovery of opioid addiction. The conference will offer information on this area’s addiction problem and ways nurses can begin to recognize aberrant drug use, identify the risks for abuse of prescribed opioid medications and discuss the nurse’s role in screening, providing a brief intervention, and referring to treatment.

“Nurses have the first contact with patients and can assess the difficulties and the complexities of opioid addiction,” said Dr. Mary Coyle, assistant professor of nursing, who is organizing the conference. “West Virginia has a very high rate of opioid overdoses related to heroin and prescribed opiates. There’s a real need for nursing students and practicing nurses who are caring for people who have a substance addiction to begin to see a complex picture of the person who is addicted to opiates and ways the family and community are impacted.”

Ann Bostic, an advanced practice registered nurse who specializes in anesthesia, will give a talk titled “American’s Opioid Epidemic: Nurses on the Front Lines.” Bostic has been a registered nurse since 1983, serves on the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists peer advisory committee, and offers educational presentations aimed at reducing the burden of substance abuse.

Other speakers include Amy Saunders, director of Student Health Education Programs at Marshall University; Lyn O’Connell, clinical coordinator of Marshall University’s Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment grant; U.S. Rep. Alex X. Mooney, (R-W.Va.); Kevin Knowles, Martinsburg City Council member and Berkeley County recovery services coordinator; and Maury Richards, chief of the Martinsburg Police Department.

Coyle hopes the conference will give the nurses who attend additional skills to address opioid addiction in their patients.

“Our purpose is to begin the conversation,” Coyle said. “I don’t think we’ve been talking about it openly. This is just a first step to begin the conversation on the impact of opioid addiction in the area and what we can do about it in practice.”

The registration fee for the conference is $95 and includes lunch. To sign up, contact Karen Rice at 304-876-5135 or For more information, contact Coyle at 304-876-5774 or

Listen to the interview HERE.

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