Sell-Out Crowd Learns About Opioid Crisis

By Marsha Vinson

Although Karen Wilkerson, President, in her introduction, was proud to announce the new  LWVPBC partnership with JFK Medical Center and Palms West Hospital, sponsors of the July Hot Topics, she warned the sell-out sized audience that they were about to get “depressing news.”  Why would the League present a depressing Hot Topics? To implement a positive change in understanding the Opioid Crisis — affecting our neighbors, our families.

Palm Beach Post’s Investigative Reporting

The first speaker, Christine Stapleton, Palm Beach Post reporter and lead investigator of the corruption in South Florida’s drug treatment industry, shared that she is an alcoholic with 19 years of sobriety.  Her personal experience with addiction extends to personally housing young recovered opiate addicts.  Christine is astounded by the corruption within nearby treatment centers.  She defines patient brokering as the buying and selling of patients with good insurance. These patients are called “thoroughbreds.”  The resulting and ongoing FBI investigation into treatment center operations has led to some closings of PBC sober homes.

JFK’s Pilot Program

   JFK Medical Center Emergency Room is in the middle of this crisis.   A JFK pilot program, requiring additional funding, profiles addicts seeking help, provides medication assistance, peer counseling, and professional follow ups.

State Attorney’s Sober Homes Task Force

    Alan Johnson, the second speaker, Chief Assistant State Attorney leading the State Attorney’s Sober Homes Task Force, praises Christine and the Palm Beach Post for not only increasing public awareness of the opioid crisis, but also credits them for pressuring Governor Scott this May to declare a public health emergency over opioids.  The Task Force leader warned the LWV audience that this is the Health Emergency of the Decade.  He shared that the Massachusetts Attorney General has issued an advisory to addicts not to go for addiction treatment in Florida.

Task Force meetings are open to the public and a Hot Topics video on this very important subject is now available online at the LWVPBC website.

Upcoming Events

    Don’t miss the Cool Topic Panel Discussion at the Palm Beach Post on Fake News and The Emolument Clause, on August 12th and September 27th respectively.  The next Hot Topic, Why Courts Matter: Consequence of Judicial Vacancies, on September 20th, will be an extremely timely presentation.