Friday, March 16, 2018

Berthoud High's Student-Led Suicide Prevention Program Expanding To Other Northern Colorado Schools


File photo of high school students participating in a "trusted adult exercise" during a Sources of Strength training in August 2017.

In 2016, a streak of student deaths prompted action within the Thompson School District in Larimer County. As the national conversation around student safety and gun violence grows, officials there are planning to expand a successful suicide and violence prevention program.
The program, Sources of Strength, trains students to recognize when peers exhibit early signs of depression or potentially violent behavior. More than 60 students from Berthoud High School, located south of Loveland and the district’s fourth-largest high school, have been through the program.

District staff is planning to extend it to all five of Thompson’s high schools this spring.

Raquel Ramirez, the district’s school health professionals coordinator, said the program’s success is dependent on that training empowering students to help each other.

“I think there’s a lot going on in our youths’ lives,” Ramirez said. “And ensuring that our kids are taking care of themselves and knowing signs or knowing ways that they can also help their peers -- I think that’s really important.”

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Article: Gunnison Hospital Reduces Opioid Use By 31 Percent

Staff participates in statewide reduction program to change the paradigm
From Crested Butte News
By Kristy Acuff
The Gunnison Valley Health emergency room staff reduced the amount of opioids they administer in the emergency department by 31 percent over six months as part of a state-wide pilot program to address opioid abuse. GVH was one of ten hospitals participating in the Colorado Opioid Safety Pilot, which sought to reduce opioid use by 15 percent among the participating hospitals; GVH more than doubled the expected reduction.
“The program focused on providing alternative pain medications and educating our patients about the risks of opioid use,” said GVH’s Jay McMurren, M.D., a leader in the program. “Our results are a credit to our emergency room physicians who are aware of the health issues associated with opioid use and they are dedicated to creating a healthier community in the Gunnison Valley.”
According to Gina Lambert, director of GVH’s emergency department, “The pilot program trained our staff about alternatives to opioids and then provided us with a handbook of sorts, which we could reference. Basically, it guided us step by step through the alternatives to opioids and it was specific for each diagnosis.”
“More often than not, a patient’s first experience with narcotics comes from an emergency room visit,” says Amy Magnus, medical staff and risk coordinator for GVH. “The old practice was always ‘If the patient is in pain, treat with narcotics first.’ But we are changing that paradigm.”
While opioids have typically been used for all types of pain, the guidelines from the pilot program address different drugs for specific types of pain such as kidney stones, migraines, back spasms, abdominal pain, broken bones and dislocations, and acute or chronic pain. Instead of a blanket approach of administering opioids, emergency room staff members are able to pinpoint specific pain relief for each diagnosis.
The program was developed and first implemented by Dr. Don Stader and pharmacist Rachael Duncan of Denver’s Swedish Medical Center. Stader and his team at Swedish conducted their own study using alternatives to opioids before reaching out and training staff at ten Colorado emergency rooms and hospitals.
According to Magnus, part of the training included a riveting story recounted by one physician. “He told us of a time when he was attending to an opioid overdose patient and asking her about her opioid use, trying to get some background. The patient told him that the first time she tried opioids was when she was 15 years old and treated for an ankle fracture. She said she was immediately hooked.” Later, the physician realized that he had been her attending physician for her fractured ankle and it was he who first prescribed the opioids.
“That was a powerful story,” says Magnus.
According to data from the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, in 2015 approximately one Coloradan died every 36 hours from opioid overdose. Colorado has the 12th highest rate of misuse and abuse of prescription opioids across all 50 states. Additionally, risk from illicit drugs has increased, and in 2016, heroin overdose deaths across the state increased by 23 percent from 2010. Opioids administered by clinicians sometimes serve as a gateway drug to illicit drugs, such as heroin, according to the Colorado Hospital Association’s Opioid Safety Pilot Program Results Report.
Now, before issuing opioids for pain, emergency room staff administers the first alternative suggested by the alternatives handbook based on the specific medical condition. If that doesn’t work, the document guides them to a suggested second step and if they still haven’t found pain relief for the patient, they complete an “addiction risk assessment” to judge the tendency for patient proclivity to addiction before finally administering opioids as a last resort.
“Participating in the program cements our passion to continually source healthier solutions that will ultimately make a difference to the Gunnison Valley Community,” said GVH’s CEO Rob Santilli.
Magnus reports that patient satisfaction actually increased during the six-month run of the pilot program. “We collected patient satisfaction scores to see if there was a negative impact when we reduced opioid administration, but the scores actually increased,” says Magnus. “Part of the new protocol is more communication with the patients—sitting down and explaining the risks and telling patients why we don’t want to administer opioids—and I think that helped increase patient satisfaction.”
All ten of the participating hospitals and emergency departments exceeded the goal of reducing opioids by 15 percent, and, on average, the cohort of hospitals reduced opioid administration by 36 percent, the equivalent of 35,000 fewer opioid uses.
Nationally, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R) introduced the Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) in the Emergency Department Act to fund innovative approaches to combat the opioid epidemic. The legislation would establish a program to test alternative pain management protocols to limit the use of opioids in hospital emergency departments similar to the Colorado pilot program. It would also provide grant funding to build these programs.
Bennet said, “We need to invest in data-driven, innovative programs like the Colorado Opioid Safety Collaborative Pilot, which has successfully used alternatives to opioids as first-line treatment for pain.”

OEDIT launches 2018 Blueprint 2.0 Initiatives

Image result for colorado office of economic development

Applications open March 15 - Rural Colorado communities encouraged to apply

Launched in 2015, Blueprint 2.0, leverages state partnerships and specialized resources to address the economic development goals of rural areas of Colorado. Blueprint 2.0 is a bottom-up effort to turn regional feedback on local economic needs into a statewide set of initiatives to advance the economies of rural communities.

In 2017, 17 communities across the state benefited from Blueprint 2.0 initiatives focused on place-making, branding, co-working, small business support, film production, outdoor recreation and tourism promotion. Past Blueprint 2.0 recipients have received technical assistance developing tourism assets, strategic business growth action plans and even a tiny home master plan.

The following eight initiatives will be offered in 2018:

Communities interested in a Blueprint 2.0 initiative are encouraged to learn more and apply online at Applicants will be asked to demonstrate collaboration, strong local leadership and solid support for the initiative they chose to pursue.

Blueprint 2.0 applications are due on June 1, 2018 and winning communities will be announced in early July.

Questions about the program or application process should be directed to Danielle Lendriet at 303-929-1042 or or Meridith Marshall at 303-892-3850 or

Friday, March 9, 2018

Commentary: How a School Bus With No Wheels Taught Me to See Past Silos

5 fEB 2018

This is another story about Olneyville, the low-income, predominately Latino neighborhood on the west side of Providence, Rhode Island, that I have been studying for some time in connection with a book I am writing about neighborhood well-being. When I first encountered Olneyville, I had thought my book would be about policing. The Providence Police Department has made the shift that I have long endorsed from a conventional, paramilitary style of policing to place-based, community-led problem-solving. I figured I would talk about the transformation there and a few other places, where the shift has been successful. But the more time I spent in Olneyville, talking with the people who live and work there, the more I realized I was looking at things too narrowly.
One story finally brought it home to me. On weekday mornings, a small group of parents starts walking through the streets of Olneyville. They follow a set route on a specified timetable, stopping at designated spots and street corners before finally reaching the William D’Abate Elementary School. Like every poor, urban neighborhood, Olneyville has more than its share of challenges, and the group walks past vacant lots, abandoned buildings, and derelict houses. At every stop, young children scamper out of their homes and climb aboard a bus with no wheels.
Like any school bus, this one winds its way through the neighborhood, adding more and more kids—and a few additional adults—along the way. But the Walking School Bus is much more than just another car or bus on the road. People recognize it, wave to the kids, and are warmed at the sight of school children chattering and skipping down the sidewalk, oblivious to the rest of the world. The Walking School Bus has become an Olneyville institution.
The idea of the Walking School Bus didn’t start with Olneyville. In fact, there’s a website for maintained by the National Center for Safe Routes to School (itself part of the Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North Carolina), that describes how to start your very own version.
Yet when I first heard about the Walking School Bus, I dismissed it as just a cute story. What does this have to do with policing? Ain’t no cops on the bus. But then I kept hearing about it. Providence police officers told me about it. So did the leadership team at the Rhode Island Department of Health, which funds the bus. So did the principal at the local elementary school. Again and again, people who had very different connections to the neighborhood brought up the Walking School Bus as a demonstration of something important to their slice of the community. That something varied with the speaker, but it was clear the Walking School Bus was more than a cute story. It mattered a great deal to the people who live and work in Olneyville.

Check Out CDOT's New Traffic Safety Funding Opportunity!

The Colorado Department of Transportation's Highway Safety Office has released their Request for Applications (RFA). All local communities are strongly encouraged to apply. Choose from exciting topics such as:

  •    Young Drivers
  •    Child Passenger Safety
  •    Impaired Driving
  •    Distracted Driving
  •    Seat Belt Compliance
  •    Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety

You can access the RFA HERE!

Important Dates
March 14, 2018      Technical Assistance Webinar
April 16, 2018         Applications Due by 3pm
May 7, 2018            Final Application Selection
May 14, 2018          Notification of Funding Decisions
October 1, 2018       Project Start Date

To participate in the technical assistance webinar on March 14th from 2:00 - 3:30pm log on to:

Call in: 712-770-4035   Pin: 669810

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Beyond serving more children, higher spending on child care assistance could enhance quality of care

Authors: Julia B. Isaacs, Erica Greenberg
February 22, 2018
Federal funding for child care assistance is set to increase by $5.8 billion over the next two years under the terms of the bipartisan budget agreement passed earlier this month. But how will state agencies spend these new funds?
One pressing priority is to expand the number of children served. Currently, 1.4 million childrenfrom low-income families are in child care arrangements subsidized by federal and state governments.  This represents 15 percent of children eligible under federal law. More families are on waiting lists or are too discouraged by the scarcity of subsidies to even apply for assistance. 
Yet federal child care assistance has dual purposes. It supports parents who are working or in training and education programs, and it promotes children’s healthy development and school success. To meet the second goal, states should consider putting some of the new funding into raising the level of maximum reimbursements to providers.

How would raising reimbursement rates help children and families?

This recommendation is based on our recent research, which finds that the quality of child care centers participating in the subsidy program is higher in states with higher payment rates, after controlling for differences in licensing standards and other factors that affect quality.
This fits with how child care markets work. Many quality improvements increase operating costs (e.g., hiring additional staff to lower the child-to-staff ratio, paying for staff training, acquiring and implementing curricula). But providers with higher costs sometimes hesitate to serve children with subsidies because so many states set their maximum reimbursement well below the market rate for high-quality care. 
Increasing reimbursement rates could attract more qualified providers to participate in the subsidy system or allow participating providers to afford quality improvements. Analysis of data from the 2012 National Survey of Early Care and Education suggests that a $100 increase in monthly reimbursement rates is associated with a 30 percent increase in the likelihood that participating child care centers meet a summary measure of quality.  State-established maximum reimbursement rates in that year ranged from $325 to $882 per month  for center-based care for a preschool child, after adjusting for state cost of living differences.
Moreover, the quality of participating providers is higher in states that have a larger gap between their highest and lowest tiers of reimbursement rates. Many states have tiered reimbursement systems and provide higher payments to providers that meet certain quality standards. Such systems vary in structure. We found one state paying more than twice as much to a three-star provider as a one-star provider, whereas others paid a differential of less than $30 a month.
Increasing the financial incentives associated with meeting quality standards could be a cost-effective way to improve the quality of participating centers: 
  • Among centers, a $100 increase in the difference between the lowest and highest tiers in a tiered reimbursement rate is associated with a 40 percent increase in the likelihood that participating centers meet our summary measure of quality. 
  • Among home-based providers, the association is even stronger (though these findings are more tentative because of smaller sample sizes). In particular, as shown in our new report, a $100 increase in the gap between the lowest and highest payment tiers is associated with a 135 percent increase in the likelihood that participating homes meet our summary measure of quality.
These statistical analyses do not demonstrate a causal connection, but they offer strong suggestive evidence that higher subsidy payments—in general and for programs meeting the highest standards of quality—can improve the quality of providers participating in the subsidy system and promote the healthy development of children in low-income families.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Suicide Awareness and Prevention Summit

Registration is NOW OPEN for the 2018 Bridging the Divide (BtD) Suicide Prevention and Awareness Summit, which will be held May 17-18, 2018 at the Regis University Lowell Campus.
The theme for Bridging the Divide is Diversity and Inclusion in Suicide Prevention and we are excited to welcome a wonderful panel of speakers at this year's event.
We would love to partner with you or your organization through sponsorship of this event. If you are interested in seeing the benefits of sponsorship, visit the BtD sponsorship page.