Medical City Health System Tackles National Opioid Epidemic in Lewisville, North Texas


Medical City Healthcare has launched its Crush the Crisis initiative to locally address the opioid epidemic.

Opioid prescriptions have been reduced by 21% in emergency rooms at Medical City Healthcare’s North Texas hospitals since the institution launched its Crush the Crisis initiative in November 2018.

Medical City Lewisville CEO LaSharndra Barbarin said the initiative is a local response to the growing opioid epidemic, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified as a national health crisis.

“Just knowing we had this significant impact in less than a year speaks not only of education, but potentially of lives saved and addictions avoided, ”said Barbarin.

Hospitals statewide are tackling the opioid epidemic through similar initiatives, said Karen Kendrick, vice president of clinical initiatives and quality at the Texas Hospital Association.

“Our hospitals do a great job of monitoring the types of drugs they prescribe, using alternatives to opioid drugs where possible, and then only giving a limited prescription until patients can see a doctor. primary care physician and be taken care of, ”Kendrick said.

In 2017, more than 70,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses, and 68% of those overdoses involved opioids, according to CDC data.

The opioid epidemic, Barbarin said, is not only a national problem, but also a local one.

Data from the Denton County Public Health Department shows that there were 37 opioid-related deaths in the county in 2017. Additionally, CDC data reveals that in the same year, there were approximately 54 opioid prescriptions per 100 people in Denton County.

“It’s not a crisis that has a preference,” said Barbarin. “He doesn’t have a certain economic status. It does not make a difference based on race, gender or education. It is truly a crisis that is prevalent in all parts of North Texas. Denton County is no different.

Breana Bohannan, treatment center director at AppleGate Recovery Lewisville, said she saw firsthand how widespread the opioid epidemic was. The center offers medically assisted treatment to people struggling with opioid addiction.

“This epidemic is taking lives and destroying families,” she said.

Bohannan added that educating the community about the dangers of opioids is essential to dealing with the crisis.

“We are all human and we all have healthy and unhealthy coping skills,” Bohannan said. “And no one looking for this alternative expects aspects of opioid addiction, let alone death.”

Barbarin said Crush the Crisis was created because everyone involved in Medical City‘s health care system was eager to do their part to mitigate the increase in opioid addictions.

The initiative is threefold. The first phase, launched last year, is reducing the number of opioid drugs prescribed in emergency rooms in Medical City. The final two phases, which focus on reducing opioid use in surgical recovery and educating the community, were launched in September.

Dr James Doyle, who practices at Medical City Lewisville, said he and his colleagues are focusing as much as possible on treating patients with equally effective and less addictive opioid alternatives. Alternatives include non-opioid patches, non-opioid pain relievers, local injections, and other pain relief methods.

Doyle said opioids pose a high risk of addiction because of the way they affect the human brain.

“Opioids impact the sugars in the brain,” he said. “And when prescribed and administered in doses that exceed pain level considerations, they can provide a very euphoric feeling, which can certainly lead to addiction.”

Medical City Healthcare is also introducing new pain management strategies.

Post-operative patients now receive virtual reality headsets to help with pain management by providing distraction. The free headset connects to a smartphone and allows users to immerse themselves in a 360-degree virtual environment of their choice.

The idea, said Barbarin, is that patients will be able to take pain medication less frequently during their recovery if they use the headsets to keep their minds on something other than their pain.

In a pilot study conducted by Medical City Healthcare at its hospitals, 35% of patients who used virtual technology reported reduced pain, and over 60% reported less anxiety after using the technology, a declared Barbarin.

“We certainly recognize that anything that can ease the pain and suffering of patients is really what we’re here for – it’s at the heart of our mission,” said Barbarin.

The third phase of the initiative focuses on educating the community about the dangers of opioids and the importance of getting rid of unwanted drugs safely.

Drug collection boxes were installed at 12 hospitals in Medical City in September, including Medical City Lewisville, to provide individuals with locations to safely and anonymously drop off prescription opioids and other unwanted or expired drugs. .

Barbarin said it’s important to use safe methods of drug disposal like this, as flushing the drugs down the toilet or sewer can create potential health and environmental risks. Throwing drugs in the trash can inadvertently make them available to people already addicted to prescription drugs.

“It can also make drugs accessible to those who may be curious,” Barbarin said. “This curious person may be an adult. But in dire situations, maybe that curious person is a child.

Bohannan said that for people already struggling with opioid addiction, a list of local treatment resources can be found on the federal government’s Addiction and Mental Health Administration website.

“It’s a huge epidemic to face alone,” Bohannan said. “And in the treatment community that we have, we’re here to help individuals navigate recovery. “

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