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UHS has lead role in opioid presentations

November 08, 2017

UHS and its addiction treatment experts will participate in two upcoming events for medical professionals focusing on community solutions to the opioid addiction crisis.

UHS physicians Peter Ronan, MD, and Julia Hunter, MD, MPH, are recognized leaders in the effort to find the best treatment options for patients dealing with heroin and other opioid addictions.

Providers to exchange ideas at roundtable:

UHS experts will participate in a Greater Binghamton roundtable discussion in December on the local effects of the nationwide opioid crisis.

Drs. Ronan and Hunter, along with Alan Wilmarth of UHS Behavioral Health, will be among the providers and others on hand to discuss the impact of opioid addiction on lives in the Southern Tier.

The Binghamton Opioid Roundtable, for members of the Healthcare Association of New York State and hosted by UHS, will be held Dec. 1 at UHS.

Dr. Ronan is medical director of Addiction Medicine at UHS, and Dr. Hunter assistant medical director. Mr. Wilmarth is administrative director of Behavioral Health.

"HANYS is hosting this series of discussions across the state, with UHS Binghamton General being one of the locations," Mr. Wilmarth said. "The association is seeking input from representatives of the healthcare continuum on all aspects of the epidemic and its impact on people's lives locally."

It is expected that topics will include primary prevention, crisis management, chronic-condition treatment and the availability and effectiveness of community resources.

Provider roundtables, like the Dec. 1 one at UHS Binghamton General, provide a forum where healthcare leaders, physicians and others can share the front-line challenges they face and seek potential solutions.

Course offered for provider eligibility:

A free buprenorphine waiver training course for healthcare providers will be held in December in downtown Binghamton.

Co-sponsored by UHS and the Broome County Health Department, it is designed for physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, and will be taught at the health department by Drs. Ronan and Hunter.

The program, offered in concert with the New York State Department of Health, is designed to fulfill the training requirement for providers who wish to prescribe buprenorphine/naloxone.

The course is part of an effort to encourage primary care providers to treat patients with opioid use disorders at the medical home level.

Dr. Ronan noted that opioid use disorder is a chronic, relapsing and remitting disease - like diabetes, asthma or high blood pressure - that can often be successfully managed in the primary care setting.

UHS and the Broome County Health Department are partners in advocating the hub-and-spoke treatment model, which proposes that the majority of patients with opioid use disorder receive treatment with buprenorphine/naloxone in their primary care medical homes, which function as the “spokes.”

“Patients who are medically appropriate for methadone or who are in need of a higher level of care receive treatment at a ‘hub,’ a specialized opioid treatment program,” said Dr. Hunter, assistant medical director of Addiction Medicine at UHS.

Instead of isolated clinics providing the only treatment option available, the hubs become specialty referral centers for addiction medicine, or places where patients with the most severe illness can be stabilized and treated.

Patients on buprenorphine/naloxone can transfer between the hub and the spokes depending on their clinical course.