Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies spearheaded efforts
Students in the Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies have been working for several years with the North Kansas City Hospital on an opioid awareness program.
“As the Northland’s healthcare leader, we formed an opioid task force in 2019 and we started Narcan education throughout the Northland,” said Stephen L. Reintjes, MD, the CEO and president of North Kansas City Hospital. “We also participated in distribution of Narcan kits.”
The task force, created under the Northland Health Alliance, has distributed 1,770 Narcan kits in the last year and a half.
On Wednesday morning at North Kansas City Hospital, two student groups from NCAPS presented their research on fentanyl prevention and talked about their community outreach efforts in homeless shelters, foster care and local detention centers.
Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas was in attendance to learn from them and share with the students what the city is doing in its fight against fentanyl.
“It was important to listen to young people,” Lucas said. “It was important to listen to students about an issue that is disproportionately impacting them — teenagers, 20-somethings.”
Lucas said the Northland, surrounding Gladstone, has also seen the highest number of fentanyl related deaths.
“And that is unusual for Kansas City public health in most cases,” Lucas said. “I don’t always get a chance to be at hospitals up here and share the fact that this is a big deal here too.”
Students say they were surprised to find out how many people did not know about the dangers of fentanyl or what it even is.
The biggest challenges when it came to getting through to their peers were often lack of knowledge and apathy.
“I think right now, especially a lot of teenagers, are trying to ignore the fact that we’re in a crisis,” said Brooklyn Bronston-Byrd, a junior at Park Hill High School. “And people don’t want to acknowledge that there’s really a problem. They’re just like, ‘Oh well, it’s not happening to me. It was at Oak Park, it wasn’t at Park Hill, so why do we care?”
Senior Katelynn Young believes in order to make them listen though, students have to be given a choice.
“Make an incentive. Hey, extra credit points for the class of your choosing,” Young said. “I think personally the main thing for teenagers and young people is to make it optional. Teenagers, when they get forced into things, they are going to rebel and do the opposite.”
All agree the work has just begun. There is not time to waste with an impact already being felt.
“Just hearing somebody’s story and just hearing the impact of this can happen and this happened to me, it really gets through me,” Young said.