WNC health care providers applaud Gov. Cooper's latest plan to fight opioids

Photo credit:{ }U.S. Air Force / Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner

Gov. Roy Cooper launched a new initiative Tuesday to tackle the opioid crisis.

"We are launching the N.C. Opioid Action Plan 2.0 with three main points -- prevent, reduce harm and connect to care," Cooper said.

Cooper made the announcement in Raleigh as part of a two-day summit.

He also had some good news about the plan he launched in 2017. Cooper said since it launched, dispensing of opioids has decreased by 24 percent.

Many healthcare professionals in the mountains are encouraged by the results and excited for the next steps.

"The only people who can legally expose folks to these drugs are doctors and dentists," said Dr. Scott Donaldson, for whom the opioid crisis hits close to home.

"A number of my friends' children had overdosed and died," he said.

As the chief of staff at Pardee Hospital the past two years, Donaldson said he made it a priority to decrease the number of opioids being prescribed.

"If you take Advil and Tylenol, that's a better pain killer than Percocet," he said.

Donaldson said they've seen a 30% decrease in opioid prescriptions out of Pardee.

The N.C. Opioid Action Plan 2.0 is exciting news for Linda Davidson, of Blue Ridge Health in Hendersonville.

"Those are three very important aspects of treating people," Davidson said of the plan's three main points.

Davidson said Blue Ridge Health treats anyone who needs help.

"Here at Blue Ridge Health, we accept Medicaid, Medicare, as well as commercial insurance, as well as uninsured populations. We have a sliding fee scale," Davidson said.

She said she's happy to see lawmakers moving in the right direction, but there is a long road ahead.

"This is not going to be a year problem. This is probably going to be a project for decades to come," she said.