International organization visits Bay County for annual event

Local News

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — When someone is prepped for surgery, anesthesia is expected but certain types of anesthesia contain opioids and could have lasting effects.

The Society for Opioid Free Anesthesia (SOFA) is dedicated to changing the way anesthesia is given and promoting an opioid-free way to do so.

On Friday, SOFA started its second annual congress on the campus of Florida State University of Panama City.

The three-day event will feature various sessions including a hands-on ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia workshop with models and other interactive teachings.

More than 100 people from across the country are participating in the congress, including local students. The conference is designed specifically though for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), anesthesiologists and students.

Founder of SOFA Thomas Baribeault says switching to the non-opioid approach could actually prevent issues later down the road.

“The last statistic I saw is, three million Americans a year are still taking an opioid for pain a year after surgery and so that’s something we can drastically reduce,” Baribeault said.

Baribeault says the fewer opioids used during surgery, lessen the need for it after. He believes this helps battle the opioid epidemic.

“Just by reducing the amount of opioids needed, and prescriptions needed after surgery, we can reduce that opioid burden in the community,” he said.

Florida State University Panama City has a Master’s Nurse Anesthesia Program that was started in 2016. Program Director Stacey VanDyke says the current state of the county is a big reason she believes in the non-opioid approach.

“I did read an article that status post-Hurricane Michael, the use of opioid, use and abuse had increased here in Bay County and we’re actually one of the top cities in the country for opioid use and abuse,” VanDyke said.

VanDyke says all of her students are attending the congress but this weekend serves as more than just a time to learn.

“After Hurricane Michael, the students lost their primary clinical site here in the area so we were having to kind of scramble around and find places for students so we wound up being all over the state of Florida for clinical so what this conference was done for us, is this is the first time since Hurricane Michael that all of the students have been able to return to campus together to see each other,” VanDyke said.

VanDyke believes the students who go through this training will have an edge when getting into the field.

The congress continues through Sunday.

To learn more about SOFA, click here.

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