Surgeon General sent 2.3 million doctors a letter this week. Here’s what it said

In a historic first, the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy has sent a letter to 2.3 million health care professionals, asking them to lead the movement to turn the tide on the nation’s prescription opioid epidemic.

“We often struggle to balance reducing our patients’ pain with increasing their risk of addiction,” Murthy writes. “But, as clinicians, we have the unique power to help end this epidemic.”

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy
Surgeon General
Dr. Vivek H. Murthy

Murthy unveiled his letter-writing campaign in March at the the 2016 Summit on RX Drug Abuse and Heroin in Atlanta. There, speaking with President Obama and other administration officials about the opioid epidemic, Murthy said,  215 million new opioid prescriptions are written every year, “enough to put a bottle of pills in the hands of every adult American.”

Murthy and others at the Summit pointed out that it is physicians who have driven the opioid epidemic with massive numbers of prescriptions.

In the letter mailed this week, Dr. Murthy urges clinicians to visit a website his office launched this month, TurnTheTideRx.org, where they can pledge their commitment to combating opioid misuse by enhancing education for treating pain, screening patients for opioid use disorder, and leading a shift in the public perception of addiction so that it is treated as chronic illness rather than as a moral failing.

This effort builds upon the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Opioid Initiative focused on tackling the nation’s opioid epidemic, as well as the National Pain Strategy, the federal government’s first coordinated plan to reduce the burden of chronic pain in the U.S. Continue reading “Surgeon General sent 2.3 million doctors a letter this week. Here’s what it said”

This drug is so deadly, DEA warning cops: Don’t touch it or let K9s sniff

Fentanyl, the powerful painkiller more than 50 times stronger than heroin, has become so prevalent that the Drug Enforcement Administration is warning police and first-responders not to touch or field-test drugs they suspect contain fentanyl.

The agency has released a video to all law enforcement agencies nationwide about the dangers of improperly handling the drug and its deadly consequences – especially to drug-sniffing police dogs.

“Fentanyl is being sold as heroin in virtually every corner of our country,” said Acting Deputy Administrator Jack Riley. “A very small amount ingested, or absorbed through your skin, can kill you.”

Riley urged police to skip testing on the scene.

“Don’t field test it in your car, or on the street, or take it back to the office,” Riley said in the video. “Transport it directly to a laboratory, where it can be safely handled and tested.”

During the last two years, the distribution of clandestinely manufactured fentanyl has been linked to an unprecedented outbreak of thousands of overdoses and deaths. The overdoses are occurring at an alarming rate and are the basis for this officer safety alert.

Photo of Christian "Ty" Hernandez. (Family photo)
Christian “Ty” Hernandez died of a pure dose of fentanyl in February.(Family photo)

Fentanyl is used in surgery as anesthesia and to treat chronic and severe pain. It is available in pills, a film that dissolves in the mouth and a transdermal patch, that delivers the drug directly through the skin. According to the DEA, the fentanyl being sold on the street is produced clandestinely in Mexico, and (also) comes directly from China.

Between 2005 and 2007, over 1,000 U.S. deaths were attributed to fentanyl – many of which occurred in Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia. Last year in Palm Beach County, fentanyl was among the drugs responsible for 95 overdose deaths.

According to DEA’s National Forensic Lab Information System, 13,002 forensic exhibits of fentanyl were tested by labs nationwide in 2015, up 65 percent from the 2014 number of 7,864.

The drug is so potent that doses are measured in a microgram, one millionth of a gram – similar to just a few granules of table salt. The high levels of the drug found in fatal overdoses are especially alarming.

A 25-year-old West Palm Beach man who overdosed in April had a fentanyl level of 18.2 ng/ml. A person wearing a transdermal patch would have a level between 0.8 – 2.6 ng/ml.

Although fentanyl  is often mixed with heroin to increase its potency, dealers and buyers may not know exactly what they are selling or ingest.  Christian Ty Hernandez, a 23-year-old heroin addict who lived in Wellington, overdosed in February on a pure dose of fentanyl. No other drugs were found in his system.

The drug dealer who sold Hernandez the fentanyl, Christopher Massena, faces 100 years in prison for selling the fatal to Massena and four other doses of heroin and fentanyl to undercover officers.

The DEA crackdown on fentanyl includes a major bust in Atlanta, which resulted in the seizure of 40 kilograms of fentanyl – initially believed to be bricks of cocaine – wrapped into blocks hidden in buckets and immersed in a thick fluid. The fentanyl from these seizures originated from Mexican drug trafficking organizations.

Fentanyl is also being sold as counterfeit or look-a-like hydrocodone or oxycodone tablets.  These fentanyl tablets are marked to mimic the authentic narcotic prescription medications and have led to multiple overdoses and deaths.

According to a DEA press release: “This is an unprecedented threat.”

UPDATE: Green Terrace unsafe without water, residents to be evicted

UPDATE: Less than a day after the city turned off the water at Green Terrace condominiums on for failing to pay a $30,000 water bill, the city declared the condos unsafe and ordered residents in the 84-unit complex – to move by Aug. 22.

File Aug 10, 12 04 46 PMThe notice – taped onto residents’ doors Wednesday morning – also orders them to board up their units by Aug 29.

The condo board held an emergency meeting on Tuesday to vote on whether the board should use some of the $291,000 in its reserve account to pay the water bill. However, the vote was cancelled because there were not enough unit owners present to make the vote valid.

Ken Bailynson, a CPA who owns 44 units and serves as the association’s treasurer, did not a show up for the meeting or vote by proxy. It was the second emergency meeting in a month that was cancelled for a lack of a quorum.


West Palm Beach utilities shut off water at Green Terrace condominiums today after the condo board did not pay the $30,000 overdue water bill.

The shutoff is the second this summer at the 84-unit complex on Georgia Avenue, just south of Belvedere Road. Board members say there is not enough money to pay the bill.

Ken Bailynson sits in court during a hearing (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Ken Bailynson sits in court during a hearing (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

»» Who is Ken Bailynson and why did the FBI raided Green Terrace? »»

The water woes at Green Terrace are the latest salvo in a bitter lawsuit between the condo board, including one-time sober home owner Ken Bailynson, and residents who fear Bailynson, a CPA,  is trying to take over the complex. 

In September 2014, the FBI raided the complex on Georgia Avenue off Belvedere Road, then the location of Good Decisions Sober Living facility, owned by Bailynson. No charges have been filed. Bailynson shut down the business but continued to buy apartments.

Although the association has $291,601 in reserves, board president Sandra Matus said that money can’t be used to pay the water bill without a vote by unit owners. Matus – whose condo was a gift from Bailynson – said the board called an emergency meeting for July 13 so that unit owners could vote on whether to dip into its reserves to pay the water bill.

However, there were not enough owners present to take the vote, Matus said in court papers. Bailynson, who owns 44 of the 84 units at the complex, did not attend the meeting. Instead he sat in his car in the parking lot and did not vote, said Denise Medina, a resident who said she parked next to Bailynson.

 

Bands take a stand against heroin Saturday with Lake Worth benefit concert

Alarmed by the increase in overdose deaths, a Lake Worth music venue is hosting a benefit concert Saturday to raise awareness to the heroin epidemic.

BANDS AGAINST HEROINBands Take a Stand Against Heroin will feature 11 acts at Propaganda at 6 South J. St. It starts at 7 p.m. and ends at 2 a.m. Sunday.

There’s a minimum $5 donation for entry, with the proceeds supporting the Florida Harm Reduction Initiative

Jon Jordan, co-owner of Propaganda, said he came up with the idea for the benefit concert because of so many heroin overdoses affecting local families, including those of artists and musicians who frequent his club.

“It was pretty much like, “Let’s do something about this. Let’s do something positive,’’ Jordan said.

He said he hopes the benefit will help eliminate the stigma of addiction, which he said few people realize is a disease.

When he posted a call for bands on social media, he noted some responses that poked fun at the event and accused addicts of making poor choices.

The Drip Effect
The Drip Effect

“But there were so many others who said, ‘Thank you for doing this,’’’ Jordan said.

“You’ve got to start the conversation. Awareness can go a long way. If one person hears about this and it saves a life, then it’s worth it.’’

Aces High Tattoo Shop is sponsoring the event.

“All of us in the music and arts scene know someone who is affected by (the heroin epidemic,” said John Wylie, co-owner of Aces High.

“It’s a big problem. It was important for us to lend our support.”

Web Three
Web Three

POLL: Who is to blame in an overdose death? Drug dealer or addict?

heroin artMonday a jury will begin deliberations in the trial of Christopher Massena, a 24-year-old drug dealer facing life in prison if the jury decides he sold the drugs that killed Christian Ty Hernandez, a 22-year-old heroin addict.

Massena’s attorney will not be allowed to argue that Hernandez was to blame for his own death because he is a drug addict. Also prohibited: arguing that Massena is not guilty because he did not intend to kill Hernandez with the drugs he sold him. An autopsy found that Hernandez, 22, of Wellington, died of an accidental fentanyl overdose.

The case is the first of its kind in Palm Beach County. Besides the legal precedent, the case raises ethical questions about whether drug addicts should be held solely responsible for their overdose deaths.

Research has shown that addiction is a disease and as the disease progresses, many addicts will not be able to quit. That leaves them vulnerable to drug dealers, who prey upon their disease to make money.

In addition, many drug dealers do not even know what drugs they are selling. Although Hernandez was addicted to heroin, there was no heroin in his body when he died. The only drug found in his system was fentanyl, a drug roughly 100 times more powerful than morphine.

 

 

Despite court order, water shutdown looms – again – for condo residents

Residents at Green Terrace condominiums are buying bottled water – again – after learning the city will turn off water to the West Palm Beach complex on Thursday because the condo board did not pay the water bill — despite a judge’s order to do so.

In court papers filed on Tuesday, board President Sandra Matus said the association does not have enough money to comply with the July 11 order of Circuit Judge Catherine Brunson, which directed the board to pay whatever it takes to keep water flowing at the 84-unit complex.

Sandra Matus, president of the Green Terrace board, heads into court for a hearing (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Sandra Matus, president of the Green Terrace board, heads into court for a hearing. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

The city turned off the water on July 7 after unsuccessful efforts to collect part of the delinquent water bill. A day later the city turned the water back on after learning from The Palm Beach Post that residents had no warning the water would be shut off.

To help the board comply with the July 11 court order, the city agreed to keep the water on while the board made payments on the $25,500 bill. The city set up a payment plan but Green Terrace did not make the necessary payments, City Administrator Jeff Green said. On Wednesday, Matus paid $2,500 — not enough to keep the water flowing.

“The city is not the bad guy in this,” said Green, adding that the city’s Housing and Community Development Department is working with elderly and disabled residents to find alternative housing. “I think they’re just playing games with us.”

»» RELATED: Profane video shows Bailynson ripping into resident»»

The water woes at Green Terrace are the latest salvo in a bitter lawsuit between the condo board, including one-time sober home owner Ken Bailynson, and residents who fear Bailynson, a CPA,  is trying to take over the complex. 

In September 2014, the FBI raided the complex on Georgia Avenue off Belvedere Road, then the location of Good Decisions Sober Living facility, owned by Bailynson. No charges have been filed. Bailynson shut down the business but continued to buy apartments.

Although the association has $291,601 in reserves, Matus said that money can’t be used to pay the water bill without a vote by unit owners. Matus – whose condo was a gift from Bailynson – said the board called an emergency meeting for July 13 so that unit owners could vote on whether to dip into its reserves to pay the water bill.

Ken Bailynson sits in court during a hearing (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Ken Bailynson owns 44 of Green Terrace’s 84 units. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

However, there were not enough owners present to take the vote, Matus said in court papers. Bailynson, who owns 44 of the 84 units at the complex, did not attend the meeting. Instead he sat in his car in the parking lot and did not vote, said Denise Medina, a resident who said she parked next to Bailynson.

William Pincus, attorney for the residents, has argued that the real reason the board doesn’t want to pay the water bill is so members can use the shutoff as leverage to dissolve a year-old legal injunction.

The injunction bars the board from raising assessments, performing construction and borrowing an additional $2.5 million from a company owned by Bailynson. The board already has taken out a $1.5 million loan from Bailynson’s company. That loan, with a 24 percent interest rate, requires the board to make monthly interest payments of $30,000.

A court hearing has been scheduled for Thursday morning. In the meantime, residents are stocking up on bottled water and making plans to bathe elsewhere.

“It’s ridiculous to have to go over to my parents’ house to take a shower,” said Medina, the mother of a 2-year-old and wife of a construction worker who “comes home dirty.”

“I’m going to do like I did before and buy water,” Medina said.

 

For $250, Ballpark of Palm Beaches offers early priority to buy season tickets

It will still be several months before tickets go on sale for the inaugural season at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, but fans can secure first priority by signing up for the exclusive Founder’s Club program.

Latest rendering of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches
Latest rendering of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches

For $250, fans receive first right to reserve seats when season tickets become available this fall for the 2017 season of the new West Palm Beach home of the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals.

They’ll also be locked in to season ticket prices for the first two seasons.

There’s a limit a four tickets per membership and the $250 fee does not count as a seat deposit.

But the offer does include permanent name recognition on Founder’s Club signs located on the stadium concourse and a small personalized memento recognizing the Founder’s Club membership.

And members will get to take an exclusive tour of the ballpark just before it opens, which is scheduled for January.

Applications can be found at www.BallparkPalmBeaches.com. The website page has a Founder’s Club link to download. All submissions should be sent to Info@BallparkPalmBeaches.com or by Fax: 561.408.0723.

Brady Ballard, general manager for The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches
Brady Ballard, general manager for The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches

Future announcements regarding ticket availability, job opportunities and the 2017 Spring Training schedule will be posted this Fall on @BPPalmBeaches Facebook and Twitter. All inquiries should be directed to http://www.BallparkPalmBeaches.com and can be addressed to Info@BallparkPalmBeaches.com.

Season tickets will be made available sometime in the fall, said Brady Ballard, general manager of the $144 million stadium south of 45th Street between Haverhill Road and Military Trail.

“We are building our seat manifest and working with our newly hired ticket software partner,” he said.

“We also await the 2017 spring training schedule.  Ticket prices will be announced much closer to the availability date.”