Friday, May 12, 2017

Local police chief encouraged by Substance Abuse Initiative, invites community to get involved

(This Letter to the Editor from Branson West Police Chief Steve Dalton was sent to newspapers serving Stone and Taney counties.)

Dear Editor:

As the Police Chief of Branson West and a former officer with the Branson Police Department, I have seen firsthand the negative consequences associated with substance abuse. Substance abuse affects individuals, families, schools, churches, and businesses - it affects our entire community.

Given the far-reaching effect of substance abuse on our community, it is clear that we all need to do more to address the issue. We need health care providers, law enforcement officers, school administrators, politicians, business owners, social service agencies, and general community members to come together to promote proactive solutions to protect our collective wellbeing. Addressing such a complex issue will require everyone working together because law enforcement cannot solve this challenge alone.

There are a number of reasons for my alarm. Substance abuse is often associated with an increase in criminal activity, as those with substance use disorders seek to fund their addiction. Consequently, the courts must deal with these offenders and prison populations continue to rise. These issues divert already scarce law enforcement resources from other pressing problems and the truth is we cannot arrest our way out of this problem. 

I am also aware of the negative effects of substance abuse on our healthcare system, where, for example, individuals seeking hospital care due to the overuse of opioid pain medication has increased by 138% in Missouri between 2006 and 2015. In law enforcement, we have also identified persons who report a progression from prescription opioid abuse to heroin injection. The abuse of opioid pain medication constitutes a new route to heroin abuse, placing new populations at risk for heroin addiction. In addition, many heroin users progress to injection drug use as their tolerance develops and the quality of heroin varies. The implications for the spread of blood-borne diseases, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus, are clear.

Law enforcement has a role to play, but the key to success is changing the stigma of substance abuse from that of simply a choice or moral failing to treating it like what it is – a disease – and getting those with substance use disorders the help that they need to manage the disease.

Substance abuse prevention and treatment providers have the tools needed to do the job. Prevention and treatment specialists are the front-line defense against substance use disorders, yet prevention, treatment options are often overlooked, and the necessary community collaboration for the use of resources is lacking. Effective tried and tested prevention and treatment can help extinguish the fire that the demand for drugs is fueling. Stone and Taney counties have many tools with which to combat substance abuse, but until effective prevention and treatment options are utilized, we will always be playing catchup.

One area of ongoing concern is the lack of access to medication to treat substance use disorders. Local drug courts have shown success in utilizing medication assisted treatment (MAT), but the lack of medical providers that are willing to prescribe MAT to the general population is limiting this potential.

I am encouraged by the new Stone & Taney Counties Substance Abuse Initiative, which provides an opportunity for community members to get involved as we seek to address substance abuse in a comprehensive manner. To find out more, contact the Project Coordinator, Marietta Hagan, at 417-335-7333 or You can also contribute by taking a short survey at


Chief Steve DaltonBranson West Police Department

Monday, May 8, 2017

Public feedback sought on local substance abuse issues

The Stone and Taney Counties Substance Abuse Initiative is a grant-funded project that
seeks to be proactive in increasing the community’s capacity at preventing and reducing substance abuse. This joint effort between CoxHealth and Skaggs Foundation has successfully hosted a Stakeholders Summit and Community Summit, and by collaborating with an expert on substance abuse prevention, conducted a community assessment focused on identifying current resources and gaps in services in Stone and Taney counties.

“As part of the initiative’s next steps, we are asking the community to take part in an online survey that will help us better understand the impact of substance abuse on a larger segment of our population,” says Project Coordinator Marietta Hagan. “If you live, work or play in Stone or Taney counties, please take a few minutes to share your knowledge and perceptions of substance abuse by completing the short survey.”

The survey can be found at and will remain open through May 19.

For more information about the Substance Abuse Initiative, call Hagan at 417-335-7333 or email
The Substance Abuse Initiative is made possible through the Skaggs Legacy Endowment. 

Since 2013, Skaggs Foundation has awarded more than $3 million through the Skaggs Legacy Endowment to area agencies dedicated to improving health and wellness in Taney and Stone counties. Skaggs Legacy Endowment is a restricted endowment fund made possible by a generous gift from CoxHealth. Funds are dedicated to improving access to health care, supporting healthy lifestyles, child and family safety, dental care, mental health and substance abuse. For more information about Skaggs Legacy Endowment or Skaggs Foundation, visit

Friday, May 5, 2017

'Basically, I died'

Skaggs Foundation helping patients find confidence to get back to life 

No one plans to have a heart attack, but it happens. It happened to Frank Redburn on his sixth lap around the track at Branson RecPlex on Feb. 27.

“I was at the RecPlex walking the track and the next thing I knew I was in the emergency room,” Redburn recalled. “I normally walked a mile-and-a-half Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I was finishing my sixth lap and getting ready to rest and that’s the last I remember.”

Redburn had collapsed near the track. Employees from Branson RecPlex and CoxHealth Fitness Center provided him with hands-only CPR and used the fitness center’s automated external defibrillator (AED) to save him.

Redburn was rushed to the hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

“They put in a stent and installed a defibrillator,” Redburn said.

He’s now ready to be fully recovered and get back to life, however, after suffering a heart attack while exercising, it’s no surprise Redburn was concerned about working exercise back into his life.

“Basically, I died,” he said. “It gives you a real sense of vulnerability.”

Thanks to the Skaggs Foundation, Redburn is attending a 12-week program at CoxHealth Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab Center in Branson without the worry of how he is going to pay his rehab bills.

Redburn is one of about 38 patients currently receiving a scholarship from Skaggs Foundation to cover his insurance copay for the sessions.

“Believe me, I appreciate it,” he said. “It would have been a hardship.”

CoxHealth Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab provides patients with individualized plans and expert nurses monitor patients throughout each session, giving people like Redburn the confidence to keep moving forward.

“We provide guidance to each patient as they exercise and help them know their limits,” said Hollie Holderfield, cardiac and pulmonary rehab center manager.

On average, Skaggs Foundation provides more than $3,000 a month to patients through the Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab Fund.

“Without Skaggs Foundation, we would not be able to serve our community as well as we do today,” Holderfield said. “We are very grateful to the Skaggs Foundation and their support, not only for rehab but for what they do for our community as a whole.”

As for the AED that was used to help save Redburn, it’s being replaced with a newer, more advanced model courtesy of Skaggs Foundation.