On Thursday, May 13, representatives from St. Peter’s by the Sea Community Sharing Committee presented a check for $5,000 to the York Hospital Recovery Center to help provide treatment medication to people in recovery from opioid use disorder. The donation was the culmination of informational sessions held via Zoom this spring, as St. Peter’s Committee members evaluated community needs and where their support might be most impactful. Due to the worsening of Maine’s drug overdose crisis during the pandemic, St. Peter’s decided to do something tangible to help people on their road to recovery.
As the pandemic ushered in isolation and financial hardship, overdose deaths reached new heights in 2020. “We know that stress, isolation, and economic upheaval are all known triggers for addiction and relapse,” said Eric Haram, Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and Director at the York Hospital Recovery Center. “This past year has been hard on so many people in treatment for substance use disorders and we’re very grateful to receive financial support that benefits our patients directly. This generous grant from St. Peter’s by the Sea will literally allow York Hospital to provide 500 doses of the treatment medication buprenorphine to patients in need,” added Haram.
Buprenorphine is an oral sublingual medication used to treat opioid addiction. The medication helps to curb the craving to use opioids by blocking a person’s opiate receptors, thereby reducing the urge to use. Without that overwhelming urge to use the drug, it is easier for those who are addicted to opioids to break that initial grip that the drug has on them and engage more successfully in treatment and long-term recovery.
Dr. Christine Munroe, medical director of the Hospital’s Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program, participated in one of the information sharing Zoom meetings with the St. Peter’s Committee. Earlier that evening, while leading an online class as part of the hospital’s outpatient MAT group, she told her patients that she would be meeting with members from a local church who were interested in helping people in recovery. Dr. Munroe said her patients were so touched to hear that other community members—who they didn’t know and would likely never meet—were interested in helping and supporting them on their treatment path. She shared the following patient quote (anonymously) with the St. Peter’s Community Sharing Committee: “When you realize there are people who are willing to help you, it makes a big difference. I am really grateful for all the people who are on my side right now.”
After the check presentation, Dr. Munroe delivered a package of the life-saving medication naloxone (Narcan®), a drug proven to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Chair of the St. Peter’s Community Sharing Committee, Karl Sanford, planned to place the naloxone at St. Peter’s in the event someone at the church was ever in a position to administer the overdose antidote and help save a life. Dr. Munroe demonstrated how to administer naloxone and added that the York Hospital Pharmacy has started making naloxone available to anyone who needs it, without requiring a prescription. Marian Reilly, RPh, director of pharmacy services at York Hospital said, “Naloxone is available to the public through a standing order, meaning that any individual can call or come to the York Hospital Apothecary and purchase naloxone directly from a pharmacist. A prescription from a doctor or other medical practitioner is not required.”
York Hospital’s President and CEO, Dr. Patrick Taylor, was grateful for the opportunity to meet the St. Peter’s Committee and thank them in person for their generous grant. “Many of us in medicine enter the profession as a calling to serve, similar to a spiritual calling. The important work that St. Peter’s by the Sea is doing by sharing proceeds from church collections with community members in need is honorable and greatly appreciated. I believe York Hospital and St. Peter’s share a similar mission to improve conditions and provide care and compassion to community members who need us most. On behalf of York Hospital and the patients we serve, thank you for supporting the path to sustained recovery.”
About St. Peter’s by the Sea: St. Peter’s by the Sea Protestant Episcopal Church is a historic stone church on Shore Road in Cape Neddick, Maine. It was built in 1897 from a bequest by Nannie Dunlap Conarroe, in memory of her husband George Mecum Conarroe, who died in 1896. Situated on Christian Hill so that its cross would be visible to sailors at sea, the church was designed by George C. Burns and constructed by Edward Blaisdell of York. It still serves as a landmark for boats leaving or returning to port. The church is an example of Gothic Revival architecture, with stained glass windows designed and installed by the Connick Studios of Boston. The Ogunquit Memorial Library was also built through a bequest by Nannie Dunlap Conarroe and its design is similar to St. Peter’s. The summer chapel is typically open for Sunday services from June through September and all are welcome.
About the York Hospital Recovery Center: York Hospital’s Recovery Center is the premier Seacoast-area program offering outpatient treatment for patients with substance use disorders and for those affected by others’ use. If you or a loved one needs help, call (207) 351-2118. For more information about the Recovery Center, please visit our webpage here.