Insight Human Services’ Derrick Vickers named DisposeRx Community Outreach Champion
For organizations that rely on community involvement and engagement, the COVID restrictions over the last 15 months have presented a number of challenges. Local festivals, health fairs and other events have been largely cancelled, but these hurdles did not deter our latest DisposeRx Community Outreach Champion.
Derrick Vickers is project manager for Insight Human Services, a 501(c)(3) organization that provides substance abuse and mental health services in 50 counties across North Carolina. For more than 40 years, the Insight team has provided prevention, intervention and treatment services with the support of caregivers, family members and others in the community.
The DisposeRx Champion award is presented quarterly to recognize partners that have gone above and beyond in service to their communities.
Vickers is in the Prevention division that works in 18 counties to address alcohol, tobacco and other drug misuse. He is also the chairperson of Stokes Citizens for Safe and Healthy Communities, a community coalition founded in 2008. Originally founded to address deaths from automobile crashes involving alcohol and prescription medication misuse, it has adapted to address medication storage/disposal efforts and to prevent underage drinking with the North Carolina Preventing Underage Drinking Initiative funded through the NC Department of Health and Human Service (NCDHHS). In 2010, the coalition installed three permanent drop boxes at law enforcement offices in the county and have disposed of over 2 million doses of medications.
Earlier this year, Stokes Citizens received funding through the NCDHHS State Opioid Response grant to mobilize efforts at the community level while also addressing poly-substance use. Efforts are underway to address recreational opioid use and the mixing of alcohol and prescription medications through partnerships to make literature, secure storage options and DisposeRx at-home disposal packets available free of charge in communities across Stokes County.
At the height of the pandemic, Vickers had to get creative to create awareness and reach those who would benefit from these efforts. Partnerships were established with four local community pharmacies, three local libraries, three local food pantries, the health department, social services, senior services, King Senior Center, Walnut Cove Senior Center, faith organizations and the local Smart Start organization to provide resources.
Through May 26, 2021, Stokes Citizens and its partner organizations have distributed 3,100 Lock Your Meds information cards, 345 secure medication storage options (lockboxes and locking pouches), 1,420 DisposeRx packets with accompanying patient engagement cards and 3,100 resource magnets that list important local phone numbers and information about the permanent drop boxes across the county. The grant period runs until June 30, so these numbers will only increase.
“During the pandemic, our community involvement was in sharp decline, so we identified areas of our communities that were still being visited,” said Vickers. “We found that our local non-chain pharmacies, libraries and food pantries were trusted community resources that offered opportunities for awareness and education in more meaningful ways than just connecting at a health fair table or at a community event.”
Additionally, in April 2021, Stokes Citizens hosted a MedAssist Mobile Free Pharmacy, where people received free over-the-counter items. More than 645 residents were served by this event that was 100% drive thru.
DisposeRx is proud to work with organizations such as Insight Human Services that are passionate about improving the physical and mental health of the community. Learn more about their work by visiting their website: https://insightnc.org/