VITAL2019 covered a wide variety of topics important to essential hospital leaders. In this blog series, we’ll highlight key takeaways from popular sessions at the conference.

As the country deals with an ongoing opioid crisis, essential hospitals play a key role in preventing and intervening in this widespread problem.

In a session at VITAL2019, staff from Memorial Healthcare System (MHS), in Hollywood, Fla., discussed how they address the opioid epidemic in their community through medication-assisted treatment, substance use disorder programming, and primary care delivery. Since 2017, MHS’ medication-assisted treatment program has served 302 patients; 95 percent of participants were drug-free after three months.

The session, titled “Opioid Treatment: From the Emergency Department to Primary Care,” offered three key takeaways for essential hospital leaders:

  1. Opioid treatment is more than medicationIt is important for patients to receive integrated care services.MHS focuses on a recovery-oriented system of care as patients receive peer support, nutrition counseling, smoking cessation treatment, and other services.
  2. Meet patients where they are and engage peersMHS operates a community clinic with walk-in hours to assess the need for medication-assisted treatment. The health system also employs peer specialists to assist patients in recovery and helps patients address withdrawal systems and social determinants of health.
  3. Collaboration is key. The presenters highlighted the importance of both the emergency room and primary care providers in treatment. In addition to providing services within the community, MHS uses telehealth to bridge the gap between patients in the emergency department and staff in the medication-assisted treatment program.

America’s Essential Hospitals has compiled relevant federal resources on this evolving health crisis.