By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Derry Village Rotary Club members welcomed the Greater Derry Public Health Network’s regional prevention coordinator to its meeting Jan. 14.
Pam Santa Fe spoke to Rotarians to give an update of what she does and how substance abuse is a big concern in the Greater Derry area.
“It’s a big public health issue,” she said, “not just for schools, but also for towns. It has touched everybody.”
Santa Fe works closely with Greater Derry Public Heath Network coordinator Garret Simonsen. The network is made up of 13 towns that work together on many health projects and initiatives.
She said the group gathers data through surveys and then takes that data to come up with strategic plans to tackle the misuse of prescription drugs and alcohol.
She works closely locally with programs at The Upper Room and Center For Life Management to help fill the needs of this area and for those seeking help.
Students also take surveys in school. Santa Fe said that information is crucial to her work to put initiatives in place.
She said misuse of drugs is on the rise. That is mostly the misuse of prescription drugs and the easy access people often have to get their hands on drugs through family members or other means.
“Access is often through parents,” Santa Fe said. “They don’t have to look far.”
Santa Fe said New Hampshire is low on the list of states that offer facilities to help those with drug problems.
“It’s about community, it affects all of us,” she said. “And it takes all of us to change the tide.”
Santa Fe told Rotarians she hopes to connect more with business owners to offer resources for their employees. It’s all part of being connected as a community.
She credited police efforts with regular “Take Back” drug awareness collection events and also said schools are working hard to bring awareness of dangerous behaviors to students.
It’s also about reaching the parents and making sure they are aware of just how easy it can be to put dangerous substances in their children’s hands.
Pinkerton Academy hosted a roundtable discussion last fall, gathering people together to talk with experts.
That’s something Santa Fe wants to continue.
“The main thing is to get involved,” she said.