ST. PAUL, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--United Family Medicine, an independent, nonprofit provider of primary health care, mental health, dental, obstetrics, preventative care, and chronic disease management based in St. Paul, today announced a clinic-wide commitment to changing the way they view and treat addiction. United Family Medicine (UFM) is dedicated to helping drive change that reduces the number of individuals struggling with opioid addiction and dying from overdose in Minnesota. The effort includes:
- Professional training for all providers.
- An immediate focus on tapering the use of opioids in current patients.
- Changing prescribing policies and practices for patients who suffer from chronic pain.
These efforts all fall within UFM’s established integrated behavioral health framework.
“Every day, more than 1,000 Minnesotans are treated in emergency rooms for misusing prescription opioids, and nearly 700 Minnesotans die each year from drug overdose,” said Dr. Jonathan Dickman, one of the physician leaders of the opioid response at United Family Medicine. “We must change how we address opioid misuse and addiction to save lives. At United Family Medicine, we address addiction as a chronic disease, not a personal failure. This means a commitment to treating the whole person with ongoing support that addresses physical, behavioral and mental health needs in addition to alternative methods of pain management.”
As an organization with more than seven decades of history helping St. Paul’s most needy residents, United Family Medicine has structured its opioid response initiative to be more accessible to individuals facing high-risk medical and social situations, when a treatment facility is not a viable option. Primary care clinics, like UFM, already provide care for other chronic diseases like diabetes, positioning them to effectively treat the chronic condition of addiction. UFM providers regularly treat patients that require checks between physician appointments while being stabilized. Non-physician team members help with dose monitoring and frequent check-ins by phone or in person. The ability to provide medication-assisted treatment in a clinic setting as opposed to in-patient treatment will allow UFM to help many who wouldn’t otherwise have access.
Core areas of focus include:
Training and education
- All UFM medical providers, including the 21 Family Medicine Residents (future providers), will become certified in prescribing Suboxone, which eliminates cravings for heroin or pain pills. It has a track record of success for easing withdrawal from opioid dependence but requires frequent check-in visits, drug monitoring tests, and prescription refills for months or even years.
- Providers will leverage UFM’s existing integrated behavioral health infrastructure to support patients’ ongoing behavioral and mental health needs.
- Educational resources on trauma-informed care, suicide prevention, and opioid abuse, including the use of live and virtual self-management resources.
Change in policies and practices for treating patients with chronic pain
- Change prescribing practices to prescribe opioids less often, prescribe lower doses and for shorter periods of time.
- Implement evidence-based practices with a focus on medication-assisted treatment combined with psychosocial therapies and counseling.
- Opioid Safety Clinic — a new multidisciplinary clinic composed of two UFM physicians, mental health professionals, nurses, and care coordinators.
- As a primary care clinic, UFM specializes in on-going chronic disease care like diabetes, for example. Providers have the opportunity to build long-term relationships with patients, creating a safe and trusting environment. This approach will be applied to treat the chronic condition of addiction.
- The UFM integrated behavioral health approach will be supported by a robust referral process to outside addiction treatment services for patients as needed.
- Long-term commitment to creating needed recovery support and community response systems through partnerships with organizations, rehabilitation facilities, half-way houses and other health care providers throughout the community to not only provide primary health care services during treatment and ongoing support post-rehabilitation, but also to work upstream from the epidemic.
“Through training and a holistic program that treats the addiction, the behavior and addresses the mental health of each patient, we’re confident we can change the devastating affect opioids have had on Minnesotans,” said Dr. Tim Rumsey, Community Health Liaison and Physician at United Family Medicine. “Dr. Dickman is leading United Family Medicine in this focused effort. We are committed to meeting the needs of the community and making a difference in the lives of people suffering from the chronic condition of opioid addiction.”
An FAQ about the program is available at: UnitedFamilyMedicine.org/in-the-news/opioid-response-faq
About United Family Medicine
United Family Medicine is an independent, nonprofit provider of primary health care, mental health, dental, obstetrics, disease screening, preventative care, chronic disease management, with on-site lab and x-ray facilities, plus guided access to local pharmacy discount programs, social services, legal counsel and interpreter services. Each year, UFM clinicians work with more than 14,000 patients. The mission of United Family Medicine is to meet the needs of the medically uninsured, underinsured and underserved residents. For more information, visit: UnitedFamilyMedicine.org