Fleming: ‘We need to come together and figure out solutions’

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INDIANAPOLIS — State Representative Rita Fleming (D-Jeffersonville) attended the 23rd Annual Indiana Rural Health Conference in French Lick on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

“The conference covered a lot of important information that not just legislators and healthcare providers should know, but all Hoosiers,” Fleming said.  

Kristina Box, Indiana State Health Commissioner, gave the keynote address, “Hindsight is 2020; The Future is Now.” Other topics included tobacco sensation, opioid crisis and suicide prevention. 

“These are all issues that especially affect rural areas, and we need to come together and figure out solutions,” Fleming said. “I was invited as a state legislator, but people didn’t care if I was a Democrat or a Republican — they knew I was there to listen and to help our state. I talked with two women who identify as Republican, and we all expressed our disappointment about the tax increase on cigarettes that failed to pass this year. 

“I was able to talk with a healthcare provider from Scott County, where the commission voted to end the syringe exchange program against the wishes of health advocates. Syringe exchange programs make the best of a very bad situation, and I’m glad Clark County is continuing this program that has proven successful in getting Hoosiers access to treatment and overdose reversal drugs. The pandemic has only exacerbated the opioid crisis, and I’m praying the end of the program in Scott County doesn’t set back their progress.

“Suicide prevention was a tough but important topic. There is a scarcity of mental health workers, so I’m glad we now have an interstate compact agreement where mental health providers from neighboring states can work in Indiana. 

“The pandemic has changed so much, and some of it is permanent, but we cannot stop learning and advancing our healthcare.”

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