Roanoke opioid summit to host regional, national experts

Gov. Northam spoke to 10 News on Friday about event, continued tour

BLACKSBURG, Va. – There’s a summit Saturday in Roanoke to address the opioid epidemic. Regional and national experts will be at the Hotel Roanoke for the day.

Gov. Ralph Northam will speak at the event. Local health care workers and heads of national groups will present findings, share ideas and discuss joint solutions.

The Medical Society of Virginia is hosting the event with Northam, and the president-elect of the American Medical Association will speak.

Northam’s speech at 8 a.m. marks the beginning of the event, which lasts until 4 p.m.

The summit is open to the public. There’s more information on the Medical Society of Virginia’s website.

Northam continued his three-month-long tour of Virginia medical schools Friday at Virginia Tech. He says the opioid crisis is the number one challenge Virginia faces.

Speaking in a lecture hall to students at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, he shared the stage again with Ryan Hall. 10 News shared his story last year. He’s recovered from opioid addiction after he started with prescription pills and later turned to heroin.

The two focused their comments to the students on the challenges doctors face when prescribing opioids.

“I've heard so many stories like Ryan's story this morning, that this could have been prevented,” Northam said. “It could be prevented if we're more careful about how we use narcotics and especially if we need to treat acute pain, that we ween our patients off of these narcotics and don't just send them out and the next thing you know they're addicted.”

Hall has now shared his story with people around Virginia.

“It's been an amazing experience. It's truly an honor to be asked to do something like this. This is my passion,” he said.

He said people have been interested in his story and many people in the audience ask him questions afterward. He’s the son of Alleghany County Sheriff Kevin Hall, who still gets emotional during his son’s events.

“I've had bonding time -- you know, father and son. Whenever I was in my addiction we didn't spend much time together. It's good to get back in the swing of things,” Ryan Hall said.