Mercy Health and Ohio State's Wexner Medical ally against opioids
Mercy Health, the Catholic health system in Ohio and Kentucky that's part of Bon Secours Mercy Health, has partnered with Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to try to stem the opioid crisis and expand access to cancer and transplant services, the organizations announced Wednesday.
The Healthy State Alliance combines more than 50,000 team members and 600 care locations throughout the state. The partnership will allow the organizations to collaborate and share best practices much faster than the two organizations could alone, said John Starcher, president and CEO of Bon Secours Mercy Health.
"This is a phenomenal opportunity to combine our expansive footprint with one of the nation's pre-eminent academic medical centers to ensure our patients get access to the best available care closer to home," Starcher said in a statement.
The alliance cited a series of stats that motivates its cause: 4,050 Ohioans died of unintentional overdoses in 2016; an Ohioan dies every other day waiting for a transplant; and Ohio is sixth in the nation in cancer-related mortality.
On the opioid front, the alliance will strive to better identify at-risk patients, limit prescriptions, expand treatment alternatives for pain management and expand access to medication-assisted treatment. It also aims to bolster community outreach programs that coach residents on preventing and recognizing addiction as well as treatment options. The organizations plan to design a database that illustrates prescribing metrics and outcome-based measurements on intervention strategies.
Regarding transplants, Ohio State University will expand its transplant program to Mercy's patients. They will also establish an office and telehealth programs in high-need areas to better coordinate care.
As for cancer care, the alliance will deploy virtual health services for specialty consultations regarding genetic counseling. The health systems also aim to expedite access to the latest research and oncology clinical trials, of which Ohio State University has more than 2,000.
The Healthy State Alliance has identified 10 objectives, but opioids, transplant services and cancer care are top of its list. The alliance may eventually expand outside of Ohio, the organizations said.
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