An interview with Carolyn Wilson, a Senior Health Program Coordinator at Ledge Light Health
District. Ledge Light Health District is located in New London, Connecticut and is the regional health district serving the southern part of New London County.
by Anna Morgan-Barsamian, MPH, RN, PMP, Senior Manager, Training & Education, NaRCAD
Tags: Opioid Safety, Evidence Based Medicine, Substance Use
Anna: Carolyn, we’re thrilled to feature you on our DETAILS blog! I know you wear many hats – can you tell us about your current job role?
Carolyn: I’m a health educator working within primary prevention, an academic detailer, and the host of our health district’s television program called Healthwatch. Healthwatch covers topics like mental health, physical health, disaster preparedness, general public health, COVID-19, environmental health, and disease prevention. I’ve been with Ledge Light Health District for 11 years.
Anna: It seems like improving patient and community health outcomes is a common thread across all your roles. What primary prevention work or related projects complement your AD work?
Carolyn: Depending on what topic I'm detailing on, I lean into my primary prevention work or the harm reduction work that my colleagues are working on.
One of the larger initiatives I often share with clinicians during detailing visits is the Naloxone and Overdose Response App (NORA) project. The Department of Public Health developed a web-based application that can be downloaded directly to your phone. It has information about preventing, treating, and reporting opioid overdose. The app can be used by both folks in the community and clinicians. I also speak to clinicians about proper medication storage and disposal while promoting our “Take it To The Box” Initiative.
Anna: We love to see programs using AD to spread the word about broader, community-focused initiatives. Are there other ways that your opioid-related AD work overlaps with work being done within your department?
Carolyn: Yes! I’m so lucky to be able to work in the office side-by-side a recovery navigator. She helps link folks in the community to addiction services. Every day we say things like, “hey, I overheard you talking to that pharmacist just now – do they know x clinician?”
We often share resources and try to work together to ensure that community health goals are achieved, often by making sure that the work people are doing is connected rather than existing within silos. It all comes down to helping one another work towards a common goal.
Anna: What better way to work towards a common goal than to share resources across colleagues and projects! Can you share a story from the field where there was an intersection among various projects?
Carolyn: I detail a lot of advanced practice nurses (APRNs) and also work with them on some of my primary prevention projects. The overlap in projects helps me build strong relationships with these clinicians. I sometimes work with school-based health centers as part of my prevention work, and these health centers are typically run by APRNs. These centers act as an access point to care for many students and families. It’s essentially a primary care clinic right in the school.
The Child and Family Agency oversees the school-based health centers in southeastern Connecticut and reached out to me after a horrific event in a Connecticut middle school. A few months ago, a 12-year-old got access to fentanyl and brought it to school. He overdosed and passed away a few days later at the hospital.
We haven’t seen many overdoses in schools, but after this happened, a lot of schools started looking at their policies and school-based health centers wanted to have naloxone on hand. The medical director of the Child and Family Agency advocated for a policy that required all school-based health centers to have naloxone and to be trained in administering it.
Anna: What a devastating story. Have the school-based health centers been able to put these types of new policies into place?
Carolyn: When one of the clinicians from the Child and Family Agency reached out to me, she said, “Carolyn, I know you do this kind of work. You trained me in naloxone not too long ago during an academic detailing visit. I’d like to have a naloxone training for my nurse practitioners in the school-based health centers. I want naloxone available in all of our clinics.”
This type of request would typically be delegated to somebody else in our department, but because of the relationships I had built through academic detailing, I was asked to provide the training, and I did. As a result, the school-based health centers now all have access to naloxone and the clinicians know how to administer it.
Anna: It’s incredible that you’d built trusting relationships with clinicians enough to be asked to provide this training, contributing to changing a policy in a span of one or two months.
Carolyn: It means a lot that they came to me because they trusted me and knew I could get it done for them. I truly don't think I would have been involved if it wasn’t for my academic detailing work.
Anna: I agree. It’s been a pleasure learning about your work and your unique approach to academic detailing. We’re excited to follow along with you on your AD journey as you continue to promote health across your community.
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Biography. Carolyn Wilson is a health educator and prevention specialist serving as a program coordinator at Ledge Light Health District in New London CT for 11 years. Carolyn studied public health and health education at New York Medical College. Keenly interested in health promotion and behavioral science, Carolyn enjoys bringing her passions and talents to both primary prevention and academic detailing work. Carolyn has been serving as an academic detailer for over 2 years and enjoys speaking with clinicians about strategies to prevent opioid related deaths. Carolyn also manages the Groton Alliance for Substance abuse Prevention @Groton_Prevents. In her spare time, Carolyn enjoys serving on the Board of Directors for the CT Association of Prevention Professionals and Fiddleheads Food Cooperative. To connect with Carolyn, find her on LinkedIn.
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