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Purple Gala to raise awareness about opioid crisis

Ohio University’s senior nursing class will conclude the year in Baker Center by raising awareness about a public health emergency. 

A group of senior nursing students will host the Purple Gala on Tuesday in Baker Ballroom. The doors are set to open at 6 p.m., and tickets are available online for $15. The dress code for the event is semi-formal. 

The event is being sponsored by OU’s Bachelor of Science and Nursing program and the Alan Stone Company. It aims to raise awareness and combat the opioid epidemic plaguing Athens County and the country at large. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 90 people die every day from an opioid overdose. Responding to the gravity of the crisis, President Donald Trump declared in a statement that the opioid epidemic is a “national health emergency.”

“It’s a nationwide epidemic and, in Athens alone, it’s got a full presence,” Mikala Perry, a senior studying nursing, said. “It’s in our hospitals; it’s in our healthcare systems.”

The Purple Gala is an attempt by the nursing students to alleviate the scourge of the epidemic in southeast Ohio. Proceeds from the ticket sales for the gala will be donated to Serenity Grove, a women’s recovery house located at 6263 state Route 56

After treatment, recovering addicts are often released into the same environment, which instigated the “negative behavior” in the first place, Eliza Harper, an assistant professor at the School of Nursing, said. 

The recovery house acts as a layover for recovering addicts before they integrate back into society. It provides its members with the opportunity to acquire productive skills to aid their functionality once they return to their daily lives.  

Several speakers are scheduled to present at the gala to shed light on the various issues and stigmas regarding the epidemic. The corridor outside the Baker Ballroom will be dotted with several tables from organizations, such as the Ohio Department of Rehabilitations and Corrections and the Athens County Prosecutor's Office, to provide visitors with additional information. 

The students of the Community Health and Nursing class are arranging the event. Harper, the instructor of the class, believes in teaching students to deal directly with the root cause of a health problem. Several of the students attending the class share similar sentiments in their approach toward dealing with health care.

“There is such a stigma linked with (the opioid crisis) and the expectation that these people just need to help themselves,” Samantha Skidmore, a senior studying nursing, said. “But the community really needs to be behind this for anything to change.” 


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