Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo's Communications Office
First Drug Abuse Public Forum Held in Eastern Kentucky

Press Release Date:  Monday, January 11, 2010  
Contact Information:  Valeria Cummings
Eric Duncan

Numerous concerns raised by those in the medial profession

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Despite the snow and chilly conditions, dozens of people turned out for the first in a series of public forums designed to address prescription drug abuse in eastern Kentucky.  The forums were organized in response to the shooting death last month of Dr. Dennis Sandlin.

“Numerous doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers are really scared, not only for their safety, but for the safety of those they work with,” said Lt. Governor Daniel Mongiardo.  “They want to discuss immediate and long-term solutions that can be put into action so that no one else loses their life.”

Those in attendance talked about everything from healthcare provider safety to expanding drug treatment and prevention programs.  Participants also talked about the need for their communities to step forward and do more in reporting drug activity while also helping drug offenders get back on the right track after treatment.  Suggestions made today and in subsequent meetings will be reported during a symposium for medical professionals on March 6, 2010 at the Forum at the Hal Rogers Center in Hazard. 

Operation UNITE, an organization that works to rid communities of illegal drug use through undercover narcotics investigations while coordinating treatment for substance abusers, is a major supporter of the forums.

“We have been approached by many medical providers asking how they can avoid unwittingly becoming part of the problem.  They want to know what they can do in their own practices, how they can recognize substance abuse and what help is available if problems are suspected,” said Karen Engle, president/CEO of Operation UNITE. “It is UNITE’s hope that the medical community will become leaders in combating the scourge of prescription drug abuse in our region.”

Dates and locations for the other public forums are as follows:

  • Monday, Jan. 25, 2010 – The Atrium at Pikeville Medical Center, Pikeville
  • Monday, Feb. 8, 2010 – Bell-Whitley Community Action Agency, Pineville
  • Monday, Feb. 22 – The Carl D. Perkins Community Center, Morehead

Those participating in the forums include representatives from Operation UNITE, the Office of Drug Control Policy, Kentucky Law Enforcement, the Kentucky Pharmacist Association, the Kentucky Hospital Association, Kentucky legislators and physicians, and Danielle Sandlin, daughter of Dr. Dennis Sandlin.