24-Hour Substance Abuse Textline Launches on the Mid-Shore

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The region’s first substance abuse information textline launched today on the Mid-Shore, offering an anonymous way for people to get information about treatment 24-hours a day.

The pilot project is the first of its kind and operates in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne and Talbot counties. Anyone can text IWIK to 71441 and within minutes will connect with a call center operator. Texters can ask questions and get information anonymously or provide contact information and have a treatment specialist follow-up for further help.

This new platform operates year-round — including nights, weekends and holidays when most substance use disorder services are closed.

Funded through the Mid-Shore Opioid Misuse Prevention Program (OMPP) as part of its media campaign titled, ‘I Wish I Knew’ (IWIK), the textline aims to reduce barriers to treatment and help people understand the treatment process.

“Our team has spent several years researching the opioid crisis here on the Mid-Shore, and we consistently found that people had a hard time getting information on treatment and often didn’t know how to start the process,” said Erin Hill, coordinator for the Mid-Shore OMPP. “We know that the younger demographic prefers texting over phone calls, so we knew this pilot program could really help connect people with life-saving services.”

The Mid-Shore OMPP is a partnership between the health departments of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne and Talbot. The OMPP team consists of prevention and treatment professionals from each health department, along with a dedicated OMPP coordinator for each county.

The Mid-Shore OMPP also includes a community coalition of more than 100 members including law enforcement, judges, healthcare industry representatives, concerned Mid-Shore residents and more. If you’re interested in joining the coalition, please contact Hill at erin.hill@maryland.gov.

The project is funded through Maryland’s Behavioral Health Administration and SAMHSA.

For more information and for local resources visit www.IWishIKnewMidShore.org.

The Mid-Shore Opioid Misuse Prevention Program (OMPP) is comprised of health departments, organizations and agencies in all five Mid-Shore counties: Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot. The program is the first collaboration of its kind and focuses on preventing opioid misuse and abuse. The program is supported by SAMHSA and the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration. I Wish I Knew is the program’s media campaign.

Mid-Shore Health Futures: UM Medical System and Shore Health Team Up to Fight Opioid Drug Epidemic

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With such successful awareness campaigns as “Talbot Goes Purple” and “Recovery For Shore” events alerting the Mid-Shore community of the dangers and tragedies that come with this unprecedented wave of the opioid abuse creating havoc in rural Maryland, we thought it might be a good time to check in with University of Maryland’s Shore Regional Health, and its parent organization, the University of Maryland Medical System, to understand more about the crisis and more importantly, their approach to education and treatment for those seeking help for themselves or their loved ones.

That gave us the opportunity to spend some time with the University of Maryland’s leading expert on addiction and treatment, Dr. Eric Weintraub, who heads up the alcohol and drug abuse division of the University’s Medical Center, and Donna Jacobs, the MMS’s vice president for community health,to discuss the current state of the epidemic and their community outreach efforts.

One example of that kind of outreach will take place on November 29 at Chesapeake College’s Todd Theatre, and three other locations in Maryland, as hundreds of stakeholders gather to talk at the Not All Wounds are Visible: A Community Conversation about Addiction and Substance Abuse . This event is open to the public and provides an opportunity to hear from and talk to healthcare professionals and community leaders about addiction and substance abuse, including opioid and other drug addictions, as well as recovery programs and strategies.

This video is approximately nine minutes in length. For more information about Not All Wounds are Visible: A Community Conversation about Addiction and Substance Abuse please go here

 

Mid-Shore Health Futures: Deborah Mizeur on Rural Health Recommendations, Timeline and Vigilance

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The last time the Spy checked in with Deborah Mizeur, the co-chair of the State of Maryland’s Rural Health Delivery Workgroup, was when things had just begun to get started. The Workgroup members were approved by Governor Hogan, the Maryland Health Care Commission was assigned to provide staff assistance, and the charge seemed simple enough; oversee a study of healthcare delivery in the Middle Shore region and to develop a plan for meeting the health care needs of the five counties — Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot.

That was thirteen months ago, and at that time, it was clear that while Mizeur was optimistic, there were many unknowns about whether a very diverse group of well-meaning citizens and professionals with very different philosophies on health care delivery, could come together to form a consensus on rural health on the Eastern Shore and perhaps throughout the state.

The selection of Ms. Mizeur and Joseph Ciotola, the health officer and EMS director for Queen Anne’s County, to co-lead this effort was an inspired one. Both of them seasoned health policy experts who lived on the Mid-Shore, Ciotola an Mizeur worked tirelessly to build consensus with the group as it slowly came to agree on both the Workgroup’s findings, recommendations and a timeline for implantation.

Last week, Deborah took a break from her Apotheosis herb farm kitchen and office to talk to the Spy about where things go after the Workgroup presents its final recommendation to the Governor and Maryland Legislature to consider in the upcoming lawmaking season.

As Mizeur notes in her Spy interview, the Workgroup realized that all of their recommendations could not be done simply with the approval of Annapolis, but instead must be accomplished over the course of years. It was also important to prioritize what had to come first, and the committee was unanimous in wanting two important steps to take place.

The first was for the state to immediately provide incentives for physicians and other health workers to work in rural areas of the state. The second was the formation of regional health collaboratives that would connect all the major private and public health providers in such locations as the Mid-Shore to coordinate and improve services and eventually move forward with the implications of Rural Health Care Complex in the region, which allows residents a “one-stop” shop for their comprehensive health needs. In addition to those primary objectives, the Workgroup was also in total agreement that the hospital  in Chestertown should continue to provide inpatient services as well.

Just those few steps, warns Mizeur, will take the full support of Governor Hogan, the University of Maryland health system, and most importantly the residents and voters of the Mid-Shore to continue to add their voices of support and diligence to make sure all parties keep their commitments.

If that happens, Deborah Mizeur is convinced the the future of healthcare on the Shore can look very bright.

This video is approximately nine minutes in length. To review the Workgroup’s full report please go here. To view the Spy’s first interview with Deborah Mizeur please go here

 

Family Support Groups Now Available in Queen Anne’s & Kent Counties

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National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) sponsors Family Support Groups

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has recently started Family Support Groups in Queen Anne’s and Kent Counties.  These groups are peer-led groups for family members, caregivers, and loved ones of individuals living with mental illness. Support group members gain insight from the challenges and successes of other group members facing similar circumstances.

Family members or friends of someone with mental illness find from the support group that they are not alone and that they can find the support they need from the group.  The family support group is unique because it follows a structured model, ensuring everyone the opportunity to be heard and to get information and the support that they need. The support groups are free, confidential, and led by people who have loved ones with mental illness.

By sharing your experiences to a group in a safe and confidential setting, you gain hope and develop supportive relationships.  The group encourages empathy, productive discussion and a sense of community.  Members benefit through others’ experiences, discover inner strengths, and learn how to identify and use local resources.

One group member said, “The most beneficial thing for me to learn was that I am not alone.  I found the NAMI Family Support Group at the time I really needed it!”

NAMI offers its Family Support Program the first and third Monday of the month in Centreville and the first and third Tuesday of the month in Chestertown from 7 pm – 8:30 pm.  For more information contact:  443-480-0565 or email to namikentandqueenannes@gmail.com

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Shore Regional Health Recognizes Nurse Practitioners

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Nurse practitioners serving UM Shore Regional Health: front row, l. to r., Michell Jordan, Brittany Cutler, Penny Boyle, Wendy Towers and Clare Ross; back row, l. to r.,  Brittany Krautheim, Patricia Lancaster, Lisa Jeffers, Diana Gail Shorter, Dale Jafari and Sharon Stagg. Not shown are Rahel Alemu, Anna Antwi, Jill Burgholzer, Ellen Spurry Christ, Jennifer Dyott, Karen Fisher, Leslie Fox, Lisa Hall, Mary Horseman, Marcia Reynolds, Mickee Roser, Shirley Seward, Doris Allen Tate and Michelle Williams.

National Nurse Practitioner Week celebrates more than 50 years of practice by nurse practitioners (NPs). NPs are expert clinicians with advanced education and clinical experience who provide primary, acute and specialty health care using a high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered approach. They must have a master’s degree in order to practice, and many have doctoral degrees, such as a Doctorate in Nursing Practice.They are licensed in all 50 states to order, perform and interpret diagnostic tests as well as diagnosis and treat acute and chronic conditions.

According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, this distinguished group of healthcare professionals number approximately 234,000. Research has shown that patients whose primary care providers are NPs have fewer emergency room visits and shorter hospital stays, resulting in lower out-of-pocket cost.

At present, 22 NPs practice within University of Maryland Community Medical Group serving Shore Regional Health. They provide care in many specialties, including breast health, behavioral health, diabetes and endocrinology, family medicine, gastroenterology, neurology, neurosurgery, oncology/pulmonology, pain management, palliative care, pediatrics, women’s health and wound care.

“We take a holistic and collaborative approach to patient care that involves listening to our patients and their families, then creating an individualized medical treatment plan to optimize healing, wellness and function while considering the unique needs of each patient,” says Lisa Jeffers of UM CMG Wound Care.

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As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,500 employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers works with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

Maryland Touts new Generic Drug Price-Gouging Law

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Following Maryland’s recent efforts as the first state to enact a law that protects consumers from generic prescription drug price-gouging, local leaders and health care advocates on Tuesday highlighted the benefits of the legislation and urged Marylanders to share their personal stories about drug affordability.

The law went into effect Oct. 1 and restricts manufacturers of generic and off-patent prescription drugs from price gouging, or the “excessive and not justified” increase in the cost of a drug, according to a state analysis.

In July, the Association for Accessible Medicines, the trade association that represents America’s manufacturers of generic and biosimilar medicines, filed a lawsuit against Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Dennis Schrader, secretary of the Maryland Department of Health, charging that the law was unconstitutional. The association said in July that the law was only protecting high-priced brand name drug companies and punishing lower cost generic alternatives.

In September, a judge rejected portions of the association’s argument and allowed the law to take effect. The association in a statement has said it plans to appeal.

“As a caregiver, prescription drugs are a big part of my life,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker in a press release. Baker on Tuesday explained how the law has personally affected him and his family. His wife was diagnosed with early onset dementia and the cost of her medication had shot up from $100 during his earlier pharmacy visits to $300 in recent visits.
“You think about the fact that I have some of the best insurance as county executive. … I have resources, but what happens to somebody that comes in and can’t afford to pay $300?” Baker said.

Generic medications account for 88 percent of drugs dispensed nationally, and 22 percent of generics studied by the Government Accountability Office experienced an “extraordinary price increase” of 100 percent or greater between 2010 and 2015, according to the office of the Maryland Attorney General.

“I take care of patients, not laws,” Dr. Stephen Rockower, past president of MedChi said Tuesday. “My job is to make sure that patients get better, which means patients taking their medicine, and I can’t do my job when they can’t afford their medicine.”

EpiPens and Naloxone are medications that officials have raised concerns about recently — citing prices that rose sharply from October 2013 to April 2014. Prices of EpiPens had a 508 percent increase in price. Naloxone, a medication used to treat opioid overdose — an especially important medication amid the nation’s opioid crisis — increased in price by 553 percent, according to the office of the Maryland Attorney General.

“It’s outrageous that companies can jack up prices like this,” Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative President Vincent DeMarco told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service. “This law is a life-saver and we’re confident that the attorney general will continue to succeed in court with this legislation.”

Maryland joined 44 other states on Tuesday in an antitrust investigation of the generic drug industry. They asked a federal court for permission to file a new complaint to increase the number of generic drug manufacturer defendants from six to 16, and drugs at issue from two to 15.

“We have to go after it,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh told Capital News Service. “We’ll see the drug companies collapse and take it to trial.”

Supporters of the legislation urged consumers on Tuesday to submit their stories to www.healthcareforall.com/hearmystory, a new webpage created for the public to share how escalating drug prices have hurt them or their families.

“As legislators, one of the ways we were able to fight was to hear the stories of individuals and repeat them in court by talking to people who could not afford the medicine that they needed,” said state Delegate Ariana Kelly (D-Montgomery). “We need your help to make sure that the legislation works.”

By Georgia Slater

Md. Medical society asks hospitals to review opioid doses

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The Maryland State Medical Society is taking action amidst the nation’s opioid crisis and urging hospitals and physicians in the state to decrease the automated controlled-substance standing orders and to prescribe a minimum amount of opioids necessary.

This epidemic is gathering attention in Maryland — Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency March 1 and committed an additional $50 million over five years to help with prevention.

The number of deaths due to prescription opioids decreased slightly — from 218 to 211— in the first half of this year over the same time period last year, Jan 1. To June 30, according to state health department data released Tuesday.

But the increase in all opioid-related deaths recent years has been sharp: From 2014 to 2017, the number of opioid-related deaths reported in Maryland between Jan. 1 and March 31 more than doubled — taking the death toll up to 473 from 226 three years earlier, according to state health department data.

In response to this crisis, the society, known as MedChi, created an Opioid Task Force to “educate Maryland physicians on safe opioid prescribing practices, how to recognize risk factors, and when to recommend alternative, scientifically-based evidence-based non-opioid treatments,” according to a release earlier this month.

Over the last decade and a half, the amount of opioids prescribed in the United States has risen sharply.

The amount of opioids prescribed per person more than tripled from 1999 to 2015, when the volume of prescriptions reached enough for every American to be medicated for three weeks straight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The problem may have began in the 1990s when physicians received messages saying they were undertreating pain, said MedChi President Dr. Gary Pushkin.

The “inadequate treatment of pain” was the subject of many policy efforts in the 1990s and among these were the “increased use of opioids for acute pain and the use of long-term opioid therapy for patients with chronic pain,” according to a 2016 paper in the
American Journal of Law and Medicine.

“Doctors do have a role in the whole opioid problem, but I don’t think we are the bad guys that we are painted out to be … a majority of doctors want to do the right thing,” added Pushkin.

Now with the ongoing epidemic and continual increase in opioid prescriptions, MedChi is seeking out these smaller changes with the hopes of a larger impact.

The group is asking that physicians and hospitals review the automated controlled substance “standing orders” that are in the electronic health record systems.

These systems may be creating these standing orders automatically as the recommended dosages — even when lower dosages would be sufficient, Pushkin said.

With this initiative, MedChi is asking that if opioids are being prescribed, hospitals and physicians do not solely rely on auto-populated dosages, and instead they decide which dosage, preferably one that is more minimal, is actually necessary for the pain being treated, explained MedChi CEO Gene Ransom.

Letters have been sent to Maryland hospitals and physicians, according to Pushkin, suggesting that either, “(1) the physicians’ standing orders be reduced to the minimum dosage and quantities necessary or (2) that practices remove any automated dosage and quantity in the …ordering system.”

Ransom said MedChi has received positive responses from hospitals and physicians, and some have begun looking into enacting these changes. Many of them were appreciative that more is being done to try and solve this opioid problem, he added.

“We are very much in line with MedChi’s efforts to reduce standing orders and we know that our efforts can’t just stop there. There are many more measures we have to take on a wider basis for this issue,” Nicole Stallings, Maryland Hospital Association vice president of policy and data analytics told Capital News Service.

The association has been trying to tackle the epidemic for years — in 2015 the group created a set of opioid prescribing guidelines, which included altering standard orders, and 100 percent of Maryland hospital emergency departments signed on to using these guidelines, Stallings added.

Prescribing opioids for too many days and at too high a dose can create a problem, according to the CDC.

Even at low doses, taking an opioid for more than three months can increase the risk of addiction by 15 times, the CDC reported.

A solution may be prescribing for fewer days; for acute pain, prescriptions for three days or fewer is often enough, and more than seven days is rarely needed, according to the CDC.

“This small adjustment could help prevent patients from receiving a higher dosage or quantity than necessary, and may prevent diversion (giving drugs to other people) or other problems,” said Pushkin.

Additionally, many of these opioid prescriptions go unused and are improperly stored in the home, according to a 2017 Johns Hopkins Medicine study.

Dr. Mark Bick, associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care at Hopkins, spearheaded the study and found that 67 to 92 percent of a total of 810 patients did not use their entire opioid prescription, but still held onto them, increasing the risk of misuse.

“Our task force continues to work on solutions to this problem and we are going to keep working on it and are open to more ideas to how this can work better. It’s a common sense solution….If we can reduce just a small number (of deaths) it’s worth it,” said Ransom.

By Georgia Slater
Capital News Service

November Events to Promote Diabetes Awareness

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Recent public health statistics indicate that diabetes rates for Maryland’s Eastern Shore counties are approaching — and in some cases, exceeding — 10 percent. According to Trish Rosenberry, regional director, UM Shore Regional Health Specialty Clinics, this high prevalence is made more dangerous due to lack of public awareness of the disease and its potential consequences. “More than 25 percent of people who have diabetes are undiagnosed and asymptomatic, and therefore are unaware that they have the disease and may be experiencing damage to their heart, eyes, kidneys, and limbs,” Rosenberry says.

The prevalence of diabetes and the potential damage it poses to overall health are highlighted each November through the American Diabetes Association’s national campaign for Diabetes Awareness. In observance of Diabetes Month this year, health care providers in Kent County have planned three events – one in Worton and two in Chestertown – to help those coping with with diabetes and/or prediabetes gain a better understanding of the disease and strategies to manage it for their best possible health.

On Saturday, November 4, the Mt. Olive AME Church in Worton is hosting a Diabetes Health Fair, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event, which includes a free luncheon and gifts for attendees, will provide expert help regarding diet, nutrition, exercise/wellness, natural foods and nutrition products. “Representatives from UM Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology, Kent Athletic Center, Chestertown Natural Foods, and Nuts and Seeds, among others will be there, giving presentations and answering questions from those in attendance,” says Chrissy Nelson, diabetes educator.

Also free and open to the public is a seminar, “You Can Eat and Still Lose Weight,” set for Wednesday, November 8, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., in UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown’s Education Center. Local dietitians Mary King and Cheyrle Borneman will offer tips on how to achieve your desired weight without severe dieting.

“Food Shopping for Health,” a grocery store tour set for Thursday, November 9, 1 to 3 p.m. at Redner’s Market in Chestertown, is designed to show how anyone with diabetes or pre-diabetes can shop and plan for meals that will promote optimal health. “A diabetes diagnosis can seem overwhelming, but there are shopping strategies to help you plan menus and fill up your cart with the right foods to maintain your best health,” says Mary King, nutrition services coordinator, UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown, who leads the tour. “This tour helps people learn how to ‘shop smart’ and select foods that will help them avoid complications.” Persons interested in participating in the tour should RSVP by calling 410-778-3300, ext. 2295.

Ongoing diabetes support and education services at UM Shore Medical Center in Chestertown include: the diabetes support group, which meets the first Tuesday of every month, 6:30 p.m.; and Diabetes Self-Management, a three-class (nine hour) program for persons who are newly diagnosed or need help in controlling their disease. A doctor’s referral and advance registration is required. Physician and advance practice provider care is offered by appointment in Chestertown on Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information or to make an appointment, contact 410-822-1000, ext.5757.

Shore Health: Maryland to Offer Online Shopping Tool for Medical Procedures

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The Maryland Health Care Commission, the state’s independent regulatory agency, is unveiling a website on which people scheduling a hip replacement, knee replacement, hysterectomy or vaginal delivery can see price differences among different providers for the same procedure.

The site is launching amid rising health-care costs and as some consumers turn to insurance plans with high deductibles.

The state site is meant to give consumers a tool to compare prices and quality on four common medical procedures at hospitals around the state that patients otherwise would have difficulty finding on their own.

Read the full story in the Washington Post here