The Waterloo School of Pharmacy was recently awarded the Best Community Outreach Initiative by the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE). The award recognizes the Opioid Crisis Awareness Campaign led by Professors Michael Beazely and Kelly Grindrod and supported by staff members Mary Stanley and Alana Rigby, and by Adrian Poon, a member of the Grindrod lab.
Run in fall of 2016, the awareness campaign was a response to the increase in opioid misuse and overdoses in Ontario and across Canada. The team launched a multimedia awareness campaign to assist the community – including citizens, health organizations, practicing pharmacists and first responders – in understanding the opioid crisis and the role they can play in reducing overdose deaths.
Throughout the campaign, Beazely and Grindrod conducted eight media interviews and made video and infographic resources on opioids and naloxone, the opioid antidote, widely available. The team also partnered locally, with the Region of Waterloo Public Health, to run a public lecture, and nationally, with the Canadian Pharmacists Association, to develop naloxone training resources.
A social media campaign augmented these efforts, resulting in over 10,000 views of naloxone and opioid informational videos in the timeframe of the campaign. The social media component drew the attention of high profile members of Canada’s healthcare community, such as Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-term Care Eric Hoskins, and Globe and Mail healthcare reporter André Picard.
The award recognizes not only the innovative content and community engagement achieved by an outreach campaign but also the sustained improvement of a relationship between an educational institution and its community. Even after the campaign concluded, Beazely and Grindrod continue to address this issue: they have given numerous presentations and trained healthcare providers, first responder, parents, teachers and more in naloxone dispensing. Beazely also chairs the Waterloo Region Integrated Drugs Strategy and leads development of drug addiction prevention programming locally, and Grindrod has presented on naloxone availability and responsible opioid dispensing at major pharmacy conferences.
Download resources on naloxone and the opioid crisis at the resource website.