Rhode Island Hospital hosts second annual opioid crisis hackathon

TEAMS PARTICIPATE in Rhode Island Hospital’s Center for Biomedical Research Excellence’s second annual community hackathon focused on the opioid epidemic. / COURTESY RHODE ISLAND HOSPITAL

PROVIDENCE – Diverse teams made up of Rhode Island doctors, community members and others devoted a weekend last month to developing and presenting innovative solutions for the state’s opioid epidemic and overdose crisis.

Rhode Island Hospital’s Center of Biomedical Research Excellence hosted its second annual Opioids & Overdose Virtual Hackathon from Oct. 15-17. A hackathon is an event in which people come together to solve problems. Hacking is creative problem-solving and does not have to involve technology, according to an explanation of the event.

“Even within a pandemic and amidst the worst opioid and overdose crises we’ve experienced as a country, the energy and innovation of this hackathon gives great hope for what more we can do to save lives,” said Dr. Traci Green, co-director of the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence.

Four project proposals earned eligibility to apply for up to $40,000 in funding.

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They are:

  • Heal on Wheels – a mobile center that would operate as a pop-up to provide “culturally competent, bilingual harm reduction and overdose prevention to historically underserved Hispanic and Latinx communities in Rhode Island.”
  • Access Express – a portable system of dispensaries designed to bring “harm reduction materials and other basic needs” to communities where they are needed. The dispensaries would work in partnership with a community center or hub.
  • Naloxbox+ – development of an internet-connected pipeline and web portal to collect and analyze data on the use of Naloxboxes, which are located in communities statewide to dispense naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdoses. The proposal includes collaboration with Naloxbox and Rhode Island’s Disaster Medical Assistance Team.
  • Portland Drug User’s Union Harm Reduction Center Model – a partnership with a Rhode Island community organization that “builds on a peer-centered, low-barrier harm reduction model developed by people with lived experience of drug use.”

Elizabeth Graham is a PBN contributing writer.

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