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HeartBeats Episode 25: Kimmie’s Recovery Zone

HeartBeats: Shipley Cardiothoracic Center Podcasts

Cathy:

Welcome, I'm Cathy Murtagh Schaffer and I'm your host for this episode of HeartBeats. This podcast is brought to you by Shipley Cardiothoracic Center, an educational series dedicated to providing our patients and the community with information and education about our cardiothoracic surgery program, Lee Health and matters affecting your health. Today, we're continuing our discussion around National Recovery Month and as our special guest, we have Mr. Al Kinkle here to talk about his work in the community and the help coming events in September. Al recently retired from his position as Chief Operating Officer of the Lexington Country Club, in order to pursue his dream of building Kimmie’s Recovery Zone, a center for people who are in recovery or suffering from mental health issues. Among his many achievements, he has helped to raise millions of dollars for Kids Minds Matter, and Barbaras Friends here at Lee Health. Besides being a dear friend, Al is a tireless community advocate and a member of the Lee Health Foundation Board. Welcome Al to HeartBeats, I'm so glad you could join us glad to be here. So I think the first question is a lot of people out there are going to be curious to know why you would leave such a prestigious position at the Lexington to pursue the development of Kimmie’s Recovery Zone and perhaps we could start the conversation with your why.

Al Kinkle:

Well, Lexington Country Club has been great to me and great to the community. We raised a lot of money for many charities there and in particular, the charity of Barbara's Friends Kids with Cancer. I was there for 20 years, a long time, and, and just enjoyed every moment of it, probably one of the best experiences I ever had. So it was just time to retire, but then to pursue my passion along with, Barbara's Friends Kids with Cancer here at Lee Health. I wanted to start my own foundation, which is Kimmie’s Recovery Zone and that's for people in recovery that are looking for help and we're a resource center for them now.

Cathy:

To be sure, despite the focus right now on COVID, Opioid Use Disorder and Substance Use Disorder and overdose deaths continue to be part of a national epidemic as well. In fact, in 2020, we saw 93,000 overdose deaths in the United States. Prior to that, the highest numbers we saw were in 2018, with 72,000 people died from an overdose. Many experts are saying that has just exacerbated the problem due to social isolation, job loss, family, separations, anxiety, and significant depression. Al what are you seeing out in the community?

Al Kinkle:

We're seeing the same thing you just mentioned with COVID 19, the anxiety and depression, deep depression, substance use disorders are another epidemic because right now we've been locked away for a year and a half just about, and now we're having another wave come. So there are people being locked away again, and a lot of what we do are in person meetings and that's very, very important. So with COVID-19 this year we had 93,000 last year, and I'm just afraid that numbers this year will be greater than that.

Cathy:

So let's talk a little bit about your wonderful brainchild Kimmie’s Recovery Zone. I know the very first thing you did to get KRC off the ground was to literally hit the ground running and going all over town, giving away Narcan. In fact, you seem to have a real sense of urgency about getting Narcan into the community. Can you tell us about that, and some of the people you've encountered as you've been distributing Narcan?

Al Kinkle:

Yeah, Narcan is available to anyone today. You can get a prescription for that and you can go to any of the drug stores, CVS or any of them, Walgreens, and they may have it, but if they don't make them understand that it's needed. And so it's perscribed, but what we've done is the state has funded us, the whole state of Florida for Narcan. So there are many distributors and I'm just one of them here in Southwest Florida. I have a passion for that because many years ago when I first got involved with, substance abuse disorder and trying to help people in the community, there wasn't such a desire for us to have Narcan. since then the state really, really helped us out by bringing that to the forefront. I've been distributed Narcan now for a little over six months, probably. We gave out about 3000 units.

Cathy:

Any stories behind those distributions that you can share?

Al Kinkle:

Wein the state of Florida, we have, 13,800/900 units given out already, and we have saved 865 people, with that distributed. So without that maybe the numbers would be different.And what happens with Narcan, it gives us the people in recovery, a chance to start over again. And hopefully it does. And we've seen many of them that have been saved by Narcan, turn around and become the great people they are.

Cathy:

How's the reception out in the community when you're out distributing Narcan?

Al Kinkle:

It's been really, really wonderful when I talk to people about Narcan and overdosing and people and deaths and things like that, almost every single person that I talk to has a story to tell me. And those stories are somebody in their family, somebody they know their aunt or uncle, all have experienced something. All of our families have something in there maybe and hopefully, when we tell our story, they tell their story and then we can help them manage the issue that they might have.

Cathy:

Which brings up the whole topic of National Recovery Month and I think, I believe the theme is Recovery is for Everyone. I think that that theme is focused on what you just mentioned is that everybody has some kind of issue that they're dealing with, and when you tell me your story, I feel vulnerable enough to tell you my story. And those stories are what helped build this community and they also are what helps each of us cope as we move forward. I think that's the basis of some of the groups, such as a Nar-Anon and a Narcotics Anonymous. They're all, this is about getting the story out, getting it out of your system, being able to talk about it, learning from others, how have they coped? What has worked for them, what hasn't worked for them. And that's why it's so encouraging to see Kimmie’s Recovery Zone start to come to life. I think Kimmie’s Recovery Zone is an incredible resource within our community and I know right now you've got a virtual presence. You've got the website up and running and it looks beautiful. And what's the next steps?

Al Kinkle):

Right now we have an office and a meeting room and we're in a facility and it's called Frankie's Place. And there's a story behind that. Frankie had overdosed at 44 years old and his sister wanted to do exactly what I want to do.She wanted to do something in memory of her brother. There's another story and when she saw, when her and I met, she said to me Al, until you get your building, why don't you just come in here and join me?

I find, like I say, I find everyone I talked to, is very open to it because I think the community knows more than we think they know about this. And you know, when I would have meetings and I had meetings over there at Lexington with 300 of our nurses, and first thing I would say to them is raise your hand if no one in here experience a mental health issue or substance use disorder, anybody in your family can, anybody, nobody can raise their hand. So like you said, I think everybody's touched by it. In my opinion, it starts with mental health issue and if it's never solved, then it becomes a substance use disorder. And then someday maybe they become whole again, and they're providing their services to the community, but something else can happen and you can overdose from it and that's where the Narcan comes in.

Cathy:

Somebody asked me today, what I thought the saddest part of addiction was. And to be honest, I think the saddest part of addiction is the trauma that lies underneath the addiction and the psychological injuries. And so many patients who have substance use disorder suffer from, and it's almost like it's this deep dark secret. All we see in general is the substance use, but we don't recognize it underneath that substance use. There's usually some kind of trauma that has stimulated it.

Al Kinkle):

And I think that's where the stigmatism has been for years and years and years. You know, when I was growing up as a young man, it was kept very secret. And if something happened, you never even heard about it anymore. I think now that the eyes are open, it's affecting everyone in some way, shape or form. They know, even if it's not in their family, they know somebody. So I think now the mental health issue is being really talked about Kids' Minds Matter's doing a wonderful job with that. The tennis player just got out and spoke, you know, about mental health. And that's why when I started Kimmie’s Recovery Zone, I wasn't so fixed on mental health, but now I am, you know, Kimmie was a dual diagnosed. So she had mental health issues that were never resolved.

Cathy:

Al tell our listeners little bit about Kimmie, what happened and how Kimmie’s Recovery Zone came to be.

Al Kinkle:

Kimmie was my daughter and Kimmie had an overdose at 35 years old. She was like, everybody else's daughter, the best daughter in the world, you know, and she was daddy's little girl and she was fine up until 13 years old. And then that's when she started to use pills and we were not aware of it. We didn't really have that knowledge. And I think that's the other thing that Kimmie’s Zone is going to try to do is get the family involved. So they have the knowledge to recognize it and not only that but to try to handle it a little better than, than we have handled it in the past, you know, we handled it with being angry and being mad and really they're innocent of what they're doing, you know? So Kimmie start it at 13 years old, she was productive, very productive, an artsy person, and probably around 25 years old, somebody introduced her to heroin and she started using heroin, and then that was another 10 years. So Kimmie’s addiction was 20 years, a long time. And we did everything, we threw everything we could, you know, at her, but knowing what I know now, I wish I knew that then. Because the resources now are a lot better than they were, the resources we had then, and Kimmie passed away in December of 2015, and we were getting a lot of our services from providers that really weren't specialized. Really, really weren't doing the best thing for her, some of them were some of them weren't. And then addiction without a handle on the mental health, you just can't do it because, okay, you solve the addiction maybe a little bit, but you got to really try to bring out that mental health and all our organizations do the same thing. I mean, AA, they worked very hard at it, NA they work very hard at it. So all those organizations that we have also help and can bring you to the right place in your life. But, we also need more services here. We don't have enough services.

Cathy:

To continue on Kimmie story.

Al Kinkle:

Yeah, so, Kimmie you know, during her usage, Kim O.D.'d in my house many, many times, and, we had to bring her back in the house. And this is prior to Narcan, so I didn't even know about Narcan basically. And, so we would have those incidents happen quite often. And one time I really could not bring her back and I had to go next door and there was a nurse next door, thank God. And they brought her back. She was dropped off here at the hospital on the front doorstep, just put there, you know, and they came out the emergency room and, Lee Health, you know, saved my daughter's life that day. So that really started to get so frequent and so hard to handle. We talked to Kim and said, listen, Kim, you need to go away for as long as you want and get better. And when you get better, you can come home and everything will be all right. You know, we'll get you some work, which a car gets you, you know, get you doing things. So Kim went away for two years and she was doing terrible in the beginning and then finally, she got straightened out a little bit. And then she had about eight months clean and sober, and she was coming home to visit and stay, you know, get set up to stay here. And I got a call from her the day before she was supposed to come home. And I talked to her and then I talked to her about 1:30 in the morning and I asked her what was wrong.

And she said, "nothing Dad" and I suspected something was wrong, but I didn't know. So I said, "okay, I can't pick you up tomorrow, I'll pick you up the next day". We were having a big Christmas party for the children that we have every year, over at Lexington. And, so I got a call at nine o'clock in the morning that she had overdosed. And then, you know, of course we went to Jupiter and we stayed with her for six days, and that's when we had to let her go. But for six days we kept trying to bring her back, and then if in fact that person that was with her would have had the Narcan, it would have been a different story. She would have had another chance and I think she was ready to make it, you know, but we didn't have, he didn't have the Narcan. So she was unconscious by the time they got there about 10 minutes. So it was kinda, it's kind of late cause past five minutes it's too late.

Cathy:

It certainly tells us why you are so compelled to get the Narcan out into the community, and thank God that you are, because if we've saved almost 900 people with Narcan canned distribution, that's 900 people who had another chance.

Al Kinkle:

Right, You know, could I just say this about the Narcan too. I think that people have to understand what opiates are and what happens even when it's prescribed to you. And my daughter used to say, "oh, well, it's a script that it's okay". That I used to think it was too, but you know, I got a lot smarter since then. But yeah, so anybody that's taken opioids for pain or anything like that, and this might go against what some people's thinking is, but it would not hurt to have Narcan in the house, in the car, and these are people that are, I'm not talking about, have a real addiction problem, but they really don't know, you know, well of course it's for pain, so people get a lot of pain and if they have to use longer, the more they take and the more they need it, the more they take. So, you know, my recommendation is I think Narcan, anybody that has an opioid prescription from a doctor, I think they should have that available in the household and somebody should know it. And then people that are suffering with substance use disorder, I give it to many parents now and they take them home brothers and sisters and things like that. Because they might not have it, but it's in the house. So it's always good and we love to give it out and there's no cost to it. And there are no names mentioned. So again, we're blessed that the state really took this on and let us give it out for free.

Cathy:

So Al I know on Kimmie’s Recovery Zone on the website, you have an email contact form for somebody who wants to acquire Narcan. Tell me how that process works.

Al Kinkle:

Well, so as they have to do is apply online and then they send me a message and then I call the person that wants to Narcan and I deliver the Narcan and then I get the chance to talk to them and make them feel good because a lot of them, might have experienced an overdose already and maybe have a little anxiousness and they want to, they want to have it around. So they call and I talked to many, many people that way.

Cathy:

And so if any of our listeners are interested in getting in meeting Al and, or getting some Narcan, Kimmie’s Recovery Zone.org, it's Kimmiesrecoveryzone.org. Kimmiesrecoveryzone.org. And you'll find the forms there. Al is such an incredible gift to the community and I know that you were thinking about having an event at Lakes Park on September 25th, but with the rise in COVID and all of this craziness that's going on right now, I think your plans have changed. Am I correct? Yes, exactly. And what's the plan now?

Al Kinkle:

Well, here's what happened. You know, we had a meeting, we have a great committee, and Megan Brady's the head that up that committee, from Park Royal, and they've been a great assistant to us, to they've been a real, real help to us. We wouldn't have been able to do some of the things we've done without the help of Park Royall. So we thought about it after the committee meeting, you know, I spent three days thinking about it. It was our first event, our first fundraising event in a year and a half, just about. So we were real anxious to have this. We weren't so concerned about making a lot of money, it was more awareness is what we were looking for. So that was driving me a little crazy last weekend. So when we had our committee meeting, we talked about it and we decided that the best interests of the community, not to have it at this time, because in good conscience, I get those numbers every day and I just was afraid and I didn't want the hospital to wind up with my problems or our association's problems and everybody agreedThe committee was all for that support

Cathy:

Are you going to try to do something virtually?

Al Kinkle:

We're going to do some things virtually. We have a few things planned, not completed yet, but planned. And then we're going to have a proclamation at the county with Mayor Anderson, and he's a great Mayor and he's going to give us a proclamation. So we'll do that there. Then hopefully we're going to get him on the video. And then we have, an NFL player, Randy Grimes, and he's going to be speaking, he's great, he's the founder of athletes in recovery and he's just a wonderful person and a great storyteller too. So he'll be able to give us some stories and we'll have a little auction and we'll do the best we can virtually. Again, the most important thing, of course, all 501 Cs need money, but I thought, I think our real intentions were, yes, we'll raise a few dollars, but real thing was to bring it to the attention. The more we can do that the better off we're going to be and hopefully lead to getting more services.

Cathy:

If somebody who was listening to our podcast wanted to donate, how would they do that?

Al Kinkle:

They would go online and there's a donation button there and they would do it that way.

Cathy:

Al, thank you so much for taking time out to be here today. I know how busy you really are. Is there anything you want to say before we wrap up?

Al Kinkle:

No, I just want everybody to if you need help, seek it, cause there is help available and you know, you can always go on Kimmie’s Zone and you can find out some information there, but there are some great providers in the community that are overworked also. And I don't think anybody really understands unless you experience it. When a child has a problem like that, it's like any other disease, Kimmie was ill for 20 years and she was taking substances to feel better, just like we all do. I take high blood pressure pills to feel better. And, so, that's what she was doing just searching to feel better. And the experience from the parents' point of view, losing a child affects everybody and it affects everybody in the family and their whole circle. Iit takes years and years and years, I haven't gotten to that year. I'm still very sad about it. ( untranscribable) . I wanted to help the parents and the family. So they don't have to experience what I'm experiencing and millions of other people are experiencing. I'm not the only one. But, it's just like Barbara's Friends and the children, we have another fund up there called Kimmie’s Angels and that's to help the families out. So I'm very proud of what Barbara's Friends is by itself, and when Kimmie passed away the hospital, the foundation, let me start, Kimmie’s Angels and we give out angel. So when you see me, I'll give you an angel.

Cathy:

Yeah, I've got two of them. I want for each shoulder.

Al Kinkle

Well, you got a four, four-star four star angel.

Cathy:

So just for our listeners, if you are seeking recovery, we do have multiple resources in the community. Kimmie’s Recovery Zone is a great place to go to look for those resources. We also have Lee Health Addiction Medicine Clinic, and we have, that's a sliding scale clinic. We have Operation Par, we have Park Royal, and we also have Salus Care. All of those places are wonderful resources and if you're looking for help, please don't hesitate to reach out to any of them.

Thank you Al for being here so much and thank you for your tireless dedication to the community until next time I'm Cathy Murtagh Schaffer and this has been HeartBeats, Shipley Cardiothoracic Centers podcasts dedicated to bringing research innovation and education to our patients and the community.

Al Kinkle, a tireless advocate for the substance use disorder population, whose personal commitment helps him to overcome significant barriers joins us in today's podcast to discuss his journey and the building of Kimmie's Recovery Zone!

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