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Confronting the Opioid Crisis

Stories of partnership and innovation in treatment and recovery from the UVM Health Network and our communities
Most primary care physicians don’t provide treatment for substance use disorder, but that is changing in Vermont
It was 2013, and a young man with opioid use disorder was invited to a meeting of senior leaders from…

Featured

Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiative Catches On
Unused medication collections expand amid addiction and environmental concerns.
Mobile Syringe Service Drives Harm Reduction Effort
Every Friday afternoon, two medical students at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine set off from campus to pick up the well-stocked mobile outreach van owned by a local nonprofit. Together, they drive north to rural communities and deliver free packs of sterile hypodermic syringes, fentanyl testing strips and Narcan to people who inject drugs.
Free Naloxone Kits Dispensed in Emergency Department – No Questions Asked
David Clauss, MD, medical director of the emergency departments of Elizabethtown Community Hospital and its Ticonderoga campus, says the kits have benefits beyond their potential to save lives.
UVM Medical Center Program Provides Alternatives to Medication for Patients with Chronic Pain
Catherine Huskisson was living with severe pain and finding few solutions that helped until she found the University of Vermont Medical Center’s Comprehensive Pain Program.

In The News

At the U.S. News & World Report Healthcare of Tomorrow conference in Washington, D.C., experts explain how their hospitals have responded to the nation's opioid crisis. From left to right: Dr. Alicia Jacobs of the University of Vermont Medical Center; Christopher Freer of Saint Barnabas Medical Center; Dr. Halena Gazelka of Mayo Clinic; and Jay Bhatt of the American Hospital Association.
How Hospitals Are Battling the Opioid Epidemic
Experts explain how their hospitals have responded to the nation's opioid crisis during a panel session Nov. 18 at the U.S. News & World Report Healthcare of Tomorrow conference in Washington, D.C. From left to right: Dr. Alicia Jacobs of the University of Vermont Medical Center; Christopher Freer of Saint Barnabas Medical Center; Dr. Halena Gazelka of Mayo Clinic; and Jay Bhatt of the American Hospital Association.

Perspectives

“There’s enough evidence now that what we’re doing here is working.”
Mayor Miro Weinberger shares how the City of Burlington is addressing the opioid crisis using a connected network of community organizations called CommunityStat. This action team is responding to the opioid challenge as a public health issue by coordinating police, public health and safety, and social services in Burlington and the greater community.
“By far the best period of my practice life has been in this work. And that’s not because it’s been easy or cheerful or un-challenging. On the contrary, it’s been quite challenging. “
About five years ago, William Porter, MD, decided to stop working as a primary care physician and devote his practice to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for patients with opioid use disorder. He explains how the medication saves lives, and the gratification he gets helping people in recovery.
Inventing the Wheel
Vermonters craft the “hub and spoke” — the first effective clinical approach to treating widespread opioid addiction.

“I think the medical community here in Vermont has evolved from seeing addiction as a moral failing to looking at it as a chronic condition just like high blood pressure.”

 

Stephen Leffler, MD
Interim President,
University of Vermont Medical Center