Pubdate: Wed, 31 Aug 2005
Source: Arizona Range News (AZ)
Copyright: 2005 Arizona Range News
Contact: (520) 384-3572
Note: Weekly, published Weds.
Author: Carol Broeder


"There is a problem here. You can't act like an ostrich and put your head in
the sand. Ignoring it will not make the problem go away, it will only
encourage the problem."

Dr. Dawn Walker, chief of staff for Northern Cochise Community Hospital, has
joined "Partnership for a Drug-Free America" to fight methamphetamine abuse
in the Willcox area.

In the last 24 months, Walker has seen the destruction it causes "at least
on a weekly basis and almost on a daily basis," she said.

"When I saw a young man in the ER who had ingested meth, that was a turning
point for me," she said.

Walker has also seen "illnesses in the emergency room, such as skin
abscesses, afflicting infants, and I had a suspicion they were drug

Meth users call them "spider bites," and Walker has seen a baby's entire
back abscessed. Some have even had to go to Tucson for surgery, she said.

She had also read articles about children in meth homes testing positive
because of their exposure.

"Something has to be done," Walker said. "Children are suffering. I asked
myself, 'How can we influence the entire community from a medical
standpoint? What can I do about this?"

It was about this time that Partnership for a Drug Free America contacted
Walker, who attended a conference in April, along with Amanda Bennett and
Mick Drage from Sulphur Springs Medical Clinic.

Willcox Against Substance Abuse (WASA) has also teamed up with Walker and
the hospital.

"I'm hoping more people may listen to a doctor, who is concerned enough to
give up her own time," said Sally White, WASA's coordinator. "It is being
done to try to protect our kids from the scariest thing I've seen come down
the pike."

"There's no redeeming qualities with this one," she said. "We're trying real
hard for prevention -- that people realize what it does and back away.
That's what we're hoping for."

On Thursday, Sept. 15, Shelly Mowrey from Partnership will hold a
telephone/Internet conference to "discuss the meth-abuse issue and our
partnership further," Walker said.

The medical staff, school principals, and WASA have been invited.

"Our goal for the September meeting is to get everybody on board -- to move
forward in unison." Walker said.

A "very aggressive" media campaign is also in the works.

It includes closed-circuit television in the schools, and messages in the
newspaper, on the radio, and at the movie theater, Walker said.

"The campaign is a marathon, not a short sprint," she said. "We need to be
persistent and driven."

"The treatment is in the prevention," she said. "I'm so excited by this
opportunity. Isn't that just the role of medicine today - to prevent

"I want parents to not be afraid to talk to their children at any age about
drug abuse," said Walker, adding that if parents are not comfortable with
the subject, they can "visit the website, or speak to your
healthcare professional."

"I'm tired of seeing the destruction," she added. "People are finally being
aware -- asking what can we do about it? We're going to start seeing the
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MAP posted-by: Josh