With “Push2Breathe,” NPLI Executive Education Students Lead the Fight to Reduce Preventable Deaths from Opioid Overdose

The CDC reports that 91 Americans die each day from opioid overdose, with at least half of all overdose deaths involving prescription opioids.[1] This ongoing and growing epidemic, recently declared an emergency by the President, challenges leaders across sectors, from law enforcement to public health to elected officials to devise new strategies and policies to save lives. Meta-leadership to build connectivity among agencies and partners, is critical for successful intervention.

NPLI Cohort XV Project Team “Push to Breathe” took on this meta-leadership challenge, developing a novel intervention designed to allow anyone – medically trained or not — to reduce harm and prevent death by opioid overdose. Focusing on what team called the “Diamond Moment” – that point when an individual can save a life through the administration of the opioid antidote Naloxone to reverse the effects of overdose – the group developed a multifaceted intervention.  Major project accomplishments included design of a template toolkit with necessary protocols and policies, training materials and best practice guides; and two operational, ongoing pilot projects in Jackson, MS and Montgomery, AL, led by Dr. Hollenbeck and Col. Hastings, respectively.

Watch NECN news coverage here

Team members also participated in a successful Public Access Opioid Reversal Kit (PARK) study development in Central Square Cambridge with 54 total participants from the Cambridge Police Department, local public health officials, and Cambridge residents. The PARK study tested the deployment of publicly accessible boxes containing Naloxone (Narcan) in Cambridge’s Central Square.

NPLI Faculty Mentor, Rich Serino, noted the team members “truly embodied Meta-leadership principles through their connective efforts across stakeholders and jurisdictions – at the federal, state and local levels from Massachusetts to Alabama, from Cambridge to Jackson, MS.” Efforts to expand pilot programs, raise awareness, and recruit ‘change champions’ willing to buy into the Naloxone administration project are ongoing. As the PARK study continues to garner national media attention, the Push to Breathe team remains committed to reducing preventable deaths from opioid overdose.

More Media Highlights:

NY Times

Boston 25

Cambridge Day

Boston Globe

Houston Chronicle (AP story)


The Team:

Dr. Phyllis Hollenbeck, Staff Physician, Department of Veterans Affairs

Colonel Brian Hastings, Commandant, Air Command and Staff College

Jack Albert, Deputy Superintendent, Cambridge Police Department

Kerry Gilpin, Deputy Division Commander of the Division of Standards and Training, Massachusetts State Police

Dr. Brett Peterson, Medical Officer, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dr. Mick Molloy, Emergency Medicine Consultant, Ireland East Hospital Group


[1] https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html