Earlier this week, First Lady Jane Beshear and I were proud to deliver on a promise to help all Kentuckians, regardless of socio-economic and insurance obstacles, obtain life-saving Narcan heroin overdose kits where they are needed most. Assisted by doctors and hospital administrators on Tuesday, we introduced this Narcan kit distribution program
at St. Elizabeth’s Healthcare in Northern Kentucky. Overdose patients will receive a kit free of charge when they leave the hospital, so they or a loved one can prevent another overdose event and possibly save a life.
“There is evidence the collaborative efforts in our community are having an effect,” said Garren Colvin, interim President and CEO of St. Elizabeth Healthcare. “A report earlier this month indicated that heroin-related overdose deaths are down in Northern Kentucky. To continue to battle heroin issues in our community and throughout Kentucky, it is going to take education and collaboration at the local and state levels. No single organization or individual can solve this on their own; success will only come with great teamwork and meaningful partnerships. We are grateful for Kentucky’s contribution today.”
In 2013, 230 Kentuckians died from heroin overdoses. The final numbers for 2014 are not currently available, but officials do expect substantial increase in the number of heroin overdose fatalities. That alarming trend has risen sharply in the last five years and my Office has committed numerous resources toward reversing that trend and saving lives.
On Wednesday, I announced the recipients
of two $1,500 college scholarships created in 2013 to help high school seniors whose lives have been impacted by prescription drug addiction. Sydney Fryman, a graduate of Nicholas County High School, and Lennon Reed, a graduate of Logan County High School, are two very deserving teens who were selected to receive the “Sarah Shay and Michael Donta Memorial Scholarships for Hope and Healing.”
The scholarships are in memory of 19-year-old Sarah Shay and 24-year-old Michael Donta. Shay, of Morehead, Ky., died of a prescription drug overdose in 2006. Donta, of Ashland, Ky., lost his battle with prescription painkiller abuse in 2010. Sarah and Michael’s parents, Dr. Karen Shay and Mike Donta, have traveled with me across Kentucky to help educate middle and high school students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and heroin. Together, through my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, we have shared this important message with approximately 40,000 students, teachers, and parents in Kentucky.
Sydney and Lennon are two incredibly determined teens who have embraced positive lifestyles, excelling in both their personal and academic lives, despite seeing firsthand the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse. During their high school careers, Sydney and Lennon participated in numerous community service and extracurricular activities, held down part-time jobs, and maintained excellent GPAs. I commend both teens on their hard work, and I wish them only the best as they pursue their college degrees. This fall, Sydney will be attending Bluegrass Community & Technical College, and Lennon will be attending Western Kentucky University. People can now make online, tax-deductible donations
to the scholarship fund.