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Confronting the opioid crisis

  • Alumna inspired by her AmeriCorps experience

    Friday, March 24, 2017
    Dr. Deanna Dunn, Pharm.D.

    Dr. Deanna Dunn, a member of the UMES pharmacy school's charter class of 2013, took her experience volunteering as a graduate student as motivation to address a major health issue in the community while pursuing her career goals. 

    Dunn has established the Marion Pharmacy in Crisfield as the first in Maryland to be an authorized Overdose Response Program, which allows personnel there to train walk-in community members how to use Narcan to prevent overdose deaths.  Dunn also applies her experience to help develop a response training program at her alma mater. 

    “We are excited to be partnering with AmeriCorps to develop a model for future partnerships in Somerset County to address the opiate crisis,” said Dr. Rondell Allen, dean of UMES' School of Pharmacy and Health Professions

    In the first nine months of 2016, Somerset County reported six opiate overdose deaths, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Hygiene. As of 2014, two percent of all causes of death in the county were drug overdoses according to the agency's Overdose Death Rate by County; a rate that has since tripled. 

    Dunn, who registered Marion Pharmacy as a drug drop-off site, serves on the Overdose Fatality Review Board of the Somerset County Health Department. She also is a support member to UMES' Overdose Response Program in the pharmacy department as an AmeriCorps liaison with ShoreCorps/PALS. 

    “By blazing the path as our first AmeriCorps member, Dr. Dunn is making a significant gift to the UMES School of Pharmacy and Health Professions and the community.” said Dr. James L. Bresette an associate dean and professor in UMES' pharmacy department. “Her passion and her commitment to improve public health is obvious.” 

    AmeriCorps is a federal grant-supported program that “drives volunteerism in America.”  Members are placed in non-profits to address health care, education and youth or adult outreach programs in exchange for financial assistance for education. 

    Her work with AmeriCorps has helped further “develop my leadership, management and data collection skills.” Skills that have been invaluable in her career as a pharmacist, she said. 

    “By establishing an AmeriCorps presence at UMES' School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, we will provide a model for UMES students to combine measurable experiences of service to the community with benefits that will enhance their education and skill sets,” Dunn said. 

    Since April 2016, UMES' licensed Overdose Response Program has trained over 200 people how to save lives.  The program and its student leaders are collaborating with local and state partners, Bresette said, to hold two campus events - April 29 and in fall 2017 - to help address the overdose problem and remove the stigma of addiction.

    “AmeriCorps members trained in volunteer recruitment and management as well as data collection methods have been established at UMES' pharmacy school as a great way to drive this process,” Dunn said.