CHI St. Gabriel’s staff went to Washington, D.C., to brief officials on how they’ve responded to the opioid epidemic sweeping across the country.
Since receiving a grant from the state of Minnesota to tackle the issue three years ago, CHI St. Gabriel’s has lowered the amount of opioids being prescribed in the area by 23 percent and moved pain from being the number one reason people visited the emergency room to outside the top 20 list.KonectDirect – Advertise Smarter
CHI St. Gabriel’s President Lee Boyles said the hospital is trying to show others across the nation the model it uses to deal with the opioid issue so communities don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
“We have a program that works. We have a program that has proven results,” Boyles said.
The hospital has seen a number of patients addicted to opioids like pain medication and even heroin get treatment and become normal members of the community again, he said.
“We have so many success stories of patients now being able to hold jobs and their families aren’t falling apart and they’re leading normal lives,” Boyles said.
One of the ways the hospital is working to reduce the amount of pain medication being prescribed, is by trying to find permanent solutions to patients’ pain issues, whether it be through physical therapy, surgery or something else, Boyles said.
Throughout that process, he said the hospital will work to taper off a patient’s prescription, rather than cutting them off cold turkey.
Another issue the hospital worked on was to deal with the diversion of drugs from patients who didn’t need them and chose to sell the drugs.
Congressman Rick Nolan, D-Minn., said the work CHI St. Gabriel’s is doing has had positive results.
“It’s a massive savings in life and dollars,” Nolan said.
The hospital is part of Minnesota’s legacy in leading the way in medical issues, Nolan said.
Work being done by CHI St. Gabriel’s has already found its way into federal guidelines, Nolan said.
The invitation for representatives from CHI St. Gabriel’s to speak to the Senate and the House of Representatives came from Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn, and Nolan.
Staff from the hospital spent Wednesday in briefings with Nolan and Franken, informing members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, or their staffers.
In a statement, Franken said the work the hospital is doing is something great and he wanted to share what they were doing with his colleagues in the Senate.
“CHI St. Gabriel’s program demonstrates that through collaboration, communities can help combat opioid abuse,” Franken said.
Working with other agencies in Morrison County, from local law enforcement to the county’s Public Health and Social Services departments has been crucial to success, Boyles said.
Hospitals across the nation will be judged not by just how they heal people in their buildings, but what they do outside of it, Boyles said.
Many of the people working at CHI St. Gabriel’s live and have families in Little Falls, so keeping opioids off the street is something they personally want to see, not just as medical providers, but as members of the community, Boyles said.
By Tyler Jensen