For the fourth time in just over a year, CHI St. Gabriel’s Health and its community partners have been recognized for their efforts to address the national opioid epidemic.  The most recent honor is an American Hospital Association (AHA) NOVA award.

The hospital and its collaborators were presented the NOVA award at the annual AHA Summit on July 29 in San Diego, one of five “bright stars in health care” recognized for improving community health by “looking beyond patients’ physical ailments, rooting out the economic and social barriers to care and collaborating with other community stakeholders.”

The AHA honor comes on the heels of the MHA Innovation in Patient Care award (June 2, 2017); DHS Circle of Excellence award received on Dec. 12, 2016; and the Rural Health Team of the Year award (June 21, 2016).

Originally funded through a $368,112 grant from the Minnesota Departments of Health and Human Services State Innovation Model (SIM) program, the care coordination initiative focused on highly collaborative, community-wide approach to addressing opioid misuse.

CHI St. Gabriel’s Health Foundation director Kathy Lange listed several factors for the initiatives success:

  • Using a multidisciplinary approach (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, educators, law enforcement personnel, other health leaders) to address the problem
  • Being an “early adopter” of strategies to combat the opioid program
  • Having two provider champions who were willing to support and encourage other providers make changes in narcotic prescribing practices was vital as well
  • Having great community partners (law enforcement, South Country Health Alliance, county staff from public health, social services, and the courts, as well as other partners with similar missions).
  • Having heightened awareness due to the number of overdoses and deaths from opioid misuse.”
  • Having medically assisted treatment (MAT) available like the ability to prescribe Suboxone

Members of the team were recently invited to a Congressional briefing in Washington, DC, to present the details of the initiative.

“We want to completely eliminate overdoses and deaths from opioid misuse,” Kathy says.  This is a national problem.  It’s not unique to our community.  What is unique is that we were the first rural community to propose a comprehensive, planned approach to dealing with the issue.”

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