Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce’s Opioid Crisis Efforts Getting Noticed

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Wendy Northcross, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, asks whether the impact of smart cars is being considered when making future projections.

Wendy Northcross, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce.

CENTERVILLE – The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce’s work to help businesses with the opioid epidemic has gained the attention of state non-profit that promotes wellness and improved healthcare.

The Massachusetts Health Council is holding an upcoming conference on the opioid epidemic and reached out to the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce for input.

The employer-focused conference, Our Workplace & The Opioid Epidemic, was created to help employers understand their role in managing the crisis.

“The Mass Health Council was very curious to know what we were doing, what our point of view was and if we would help them shape the content of this conference they hold every June,” said Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CEO Wendy Northcross.

The chamber joined the councils working group to try to shape ideas, messages and themes.

“They found a great lineup of speakers and it’s a whole day of good workshops and information for people,” Noorthcross said.

The conference will be held Thursday, June 16 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Westin Waltham.

The conference aims to cover the nature and scope of opioid addiction and what makes this epidemic different, along with the impact it has on businesses.

Another goal is to help businesses keep a safe working environment while still managing and supporting employees.

Employee assistance programs and substance use education at the workplace will also be discussed, along with tips on how to speak with employees that may be struggling with addiction. Legal options to protect employers and employees will also be covered.

Northcross said they were happy to work with the council as the issue is one they have been struggling with themselves. She said a chamber member recently told a story about how the epidemic has affected his business.

“He had hired a new person and three days later read his obituary in the newspaper and had no idea that this person was having any kinds of problems,” Northcross said.

Businesses statewide are struggling with the issue and what their role is in helping employees.

“The employer community is really seeing new things happening every day at work and in some cases not quickly able to identify a problem or don’t know where to go if they do identify a problem,” Northcross said.

According to the Massachusetts Health Council, the misuse of prescription drugs and illegal substances cost US employers about $193 billion annually and the majority of people affected by addiction are full-time workers. Officials in the state are warning that the epidemic has not yet reached its highest levels.


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