Friday, July 27, 2018

One-year project aims to help 10 Ky. critical-access hospitals deal with substance-abuse issues and treatment access

A one-year project aims to help 10 rural Kentucky hospitals address substance abuse, with one community outreach event educating health-care providers about the "disease of addiction" and another providing Naloxone training to community members at their local hospital.

Both events were part of KORH's Critical Access Substance Abuse Project, which is funded by the federal Office of Rural Health Policy, according to news releases from the Kentucky Office of Rural Health.

The July 18 CASAP event in West Liberty hosted Dr. John Sanders, the medical director for hospice and palliative medicine at St. Claire HealthCare in Morehead, who told a group of providers about the "disease of addiction," and explained how our understanding of addiction and the treatments for it have evolved, stressing that a purely punitive approach to end addiction simply won't work.

He also explained how some physicians have contributed to the problem and discussed the history of 12-step programs and how they work.

“Any time that we can get medical professionals together in the same room talking about one of the state’s most serious health issues, I think we’re doing some important work,” KORH Director Ernie Scott said. “We hope that the health-care professionals attending Dr. Sanders’ presentation walked away with an enhanced understanding of the complexities of addiction and the work that still needs to be done in our communities to deal with the everyday realities of substance abuse.”

This event was co-sponsored by the Northeast Kentucky Area Health Education Center.

The July 17 event in Hyden offered free Naloxone training to 60 community members at the Mary Breckinridge Appalachian Regional Hospital. Participants also received two doses of the life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, says the release.

Scott called the Naloxone training and distribution event a success, adding that the hope of the project was to have communities and hospitals working together and that this event had certainly met this goal.

"We're really excited to see community members come to one of our CASAP-sponsored events, be engaged with one of the most serious health issues impacting rural Kentucky today and learn about what they can do to help out," he said in the release.

The project is designed to provide support to ten critical access hospitals in Kentucky, chosen because they are in rural areas with high rates of poverty, unemployment and substance abuse.

"The overarching goal of the project is to address substance abuse issues and concerns at the hospital and community level through education and working to improve patient access to treatment options," says the CASAP website.

The release adds that the project will also work to better link the participating hospitals to their surrounding communities to meet the needs of their patients with substance-use disorders.

Besides Morgan County ARH and Mary Breckinridge, the other critical-access hospitals in the project are ARH Our Lady of the Way and McDowell ARH in Floyd County, Barbourville ARH, Ephraim McDowell Fort Logan Hospital in Harrodsburg, Ohio County Hospital in Hartford, Russell County Hospital and Wayne County Hospital.

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