Our country, cities and neighborhoods continue to grapple with substance and alcohol abuse. In just 24 hours this week, 20 people overdosed in Shelby County, Tennessee. Three of them died.
As you know, we have begun a number of initiatives to help curb the opioid epidemic. And while these and similar efforts nationwide have reduced the number of prescription opioids being distributed, opioid-related mortality rates have not declined because many people are turning to illegal drugs. We need to do more.
That’s why we have partnered with a physician practice called Integrated Addiction Care Associates (IAC) to create the Center of Excellence in Addiction Medicine, a program that provides patient care, clinical research and physician education in addiction medicine.
A feature of the program is an initiative that can help you if you encounter a patient who may be addicted to drugs or alcohol. If you have a patient you believe needs help – whether or not the patient is being treated for an overdose – you can offer to contact an IAC physician who will be on call 24/7, either in person or through our telehealth program.
If the patient consents, the IAC physician can set up a follow-up appointment at the physician’s office. The IAC team is led by the Mid-South’s only fellowship-trained, board-certified addiction medicine physicians and includes a therapist and a social worker. And it takes most insurance plans, including Medicaid and TennCare.
We are starting the program at Baptist Memphis and in Memphis-area Baptist Medical Group clinics, and we will study the results. We’ll also offer continuing education to help providers identify patients who may have an addiction. Plus, we’ll help educate future addiction medicine specialists through a fellowship program. I am extremely grateful to the Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation because it funded a grant that helped make this possible.
No single organization can tackle an issue as large as substance and alcohol abuse. It’s so pervasive, and it has touched so many lives. Our Center of Excellence in Addiction Medicine is a unique, empathetic, compassionate way to help solve this complex issue.
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