Donna Nordstrom

Donna Nordstrom, director of community health for Atlantic General Hospital

(Aug. 30, 2019) Members of the public can take advantage of resources used in the fight against opioid abuse at the “AGH Goes Purple Kickoff” at Atlantic General Hospital this Friday.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the lobby of the hospital on 9733 Healthway Drive in Berlin.

Donna Nordstrom, director of community health for Atlantic General Hospital, said spreading awareness about the opioid crisis in Worcester County is critical.

“We need to talk about it. We need to get more information,” she said. 

Nordstrom said vendors that offer services in recovery, addiction and peer support would be present at the kickoff. Additionally, naloxone training and pharmaceutical storage tips would be provided. 

The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office would also explain the signs people should look for to tell if a loved one is using or abusing opioids.

“It’s really important to get the community talking,” Nordstrom said. “We’ve been talking about the opioid crisis for what seems like a while now, but it’s still a huge issue in our community.”

The timing for the event is significant, according to Nordstrom, who said Aug. 31 marks International Opioid Awareness Day. It also helps to launch a series of events during September, also known as Recovery Month, through Worcester Goes Purple, a countywide initiative working to prevent substance abuse. 

“It’s different organizations coming together to raise awareness and it really takes a community effort and community partnerships to make this work,” Nordstrom said.

Worcester Goes Purple consists of representatives from several organizations, including the Worcester County Board of Education, the Worcester County Warriors Against Opiate Addiction, the county health department and Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.

Debbie Smullen

Debbie Smullen, events coordinator for Worcester Goes Purple

“It’s been so exciting to see the people in the community come together to start talking about the opioid problem, bringing awareness, people asking questions,” said Debbie Smullen, events coordinator for Worcester Goes Purple. 

Smullen also underscored the importance of eliminating the stigma of addiction and substance abuse.

“We are definitely fighting to stop the stigma involved with addiction,” Smullen said. “So it’s been very exciting to see people gain more understanding of the problem, understanding of the issues that come with recovery and the options that are available.”

Smullen said several events are on tap during September:

• The Worcester County Warriors Against Opiate Addiction will hold a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31 at First Presbyterian Church of Ocean City on 1301 Philadelphia Ave.

• Worcester Goes Purple will join with the Atlantic Club and the Worcester County Warriors Against Opiate Addiction for the 2019 Walk for Recovery from 2-5 p.m. on Sept. 7 on the Ocean City Boardwalk. For more information, visit the organization’s website at

• Worcester Goes Purple will have a table during the Small Town Throw Down from 1-6 p.m. on Sept. 7 in downtown Berlin.

• Worcester Goes Purple will participate in Peninsula Regional Medical Center’s Party in the Pines on Sept. 18.

• There will be additional information on Sept. 21 on the Ocean City Fishing Pier during Sunfest. 

• Worcester Goes Purple will participate in an open house at the Atlantic Club on Sept. 26. Smullen said health department personnel plan to “work with people in recovery, located upstairs from Atlantic Club.”

Additionally, Smullen said the Ocean City Council and Worcester County Commissioners are scheduled to present proclamations during their meetings to mark the occasion. 

The future of Worcester Goes Purple remains unclear, as the Worcester County Board of Education awaits a decision on grant funding. Nevertheless, Smullen said she’d still like to continue working with other community partners. 

“I think that it’s important for every person to make a difference, and if I can make a difference by helping with this program, then that’s really important to me,” she said.

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