Regional Efforts Expand Treatment Access for Opioid Use

Alliance for Better Health, in partnership with New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, St. Peter’s Health Partners, and St. Mary’s Healthcare Amsterdam, announces two regional medical training opportunities to help expand patients’ access to treatment for opioid use disorders. Trainings held on June 9 in Albany and on June 17 in Amsterdam will provide medical education required for physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners to prescribe buprenorphine, one of three medications approved by the FDA to help people reduce or stop the use of heroin and other opiates.

The buprenorphine waiver trainings represent a regional effort to combat the opioid epidemic that, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, claimed on average 78 lives per day nationally in 2016. The potentially life-saving medication-assisted treatment can be dispensed in an office setting, unlike medications like methadone that require patients to visit specific clinics.

Kevin Cope, MD is leading the Amsterdam training and is confident in the positive impact providers can have on the growing opioid problem in the region. “Opioid use disorder has become a medical problem like diabetes or heart disease that can be successfully treated by a primary care provider with medication. I have been treating opioid use disorder for over 10 years in our family practice and have seen hundreds of patients given a new lease on life and freed from the damaging effects of this issue.” Dr. Cope passionately advocates for more physicians to become trained in the use of buprenorphine, thereby increasing patients’ access to the care they need.

“Increasing access for patients to life-saving treatment is our goal,” states Melissa Weimer, DO, Chief of Behavioral Health and Addiction Medicine at St. Peter’s Health Partners. “The training will help providers identify opioid use disorder, prevent it in patients who have chronic pain, and become trained to treat it when it occurs.”

Alliance for Better Health collaborates with St. Peter’s Health Partners and St. Mary’s Healthcare, Amsterdam among others on an initiative funded by the New York State Department of Health to increase access to treatment for substance use disorders, with special focus on opiate addiction. The initiative is one of eleven headed by Alliance, who convenes medical providers and social service organizations to develop innovative solutions to local population health concerns as part of the New York State Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program.

SCOPE of Pain, Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education and Buprenorphine Waiver Training will be held on June 9, 7:00 am – 5:00 pm at the Radisson Hotel in Albany and is open to physicians, residents, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, behavioral health workers, and social workers. Daniel P. Alford, MD, MPH, FACP, FASAM, Professor of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine will present SCOPE of Pain and Melissa Weimer, DO, MCR, Chief of Behavioral Health and Addiction Medicine, St. Peter’s Health Partners and Bruce Trigg, MD, Harm Reduction Coalition will present Buprenorphine Waiver Training. Sponsors of the training include Alliance for Better Health; St. Peter’s Health Partners; New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute; Boston University; Council of Medical Specialty Societies; Federation of State Medical Boards; New York Chapter American College of Physicians; and Providers’ Clinical Support System For Medication Assisted Treatment.

Buprenorphine Waiver Training for Clinical Providers is scheduled for June 17, 8:00 am – 1:00 pm in the Carondelet Pavilion at St. Mary’s Hospital in Amsterdam and is open to physicians, residents, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. Kevin Cope, MD, St. Mary’s Healthcare, Amsterdam and Bruce Trigg, MD, Harm Reduction Coalition will present. Sponsors of the training include Alliance for Better Health; St. Mary’s Healthcare, Amsterdam; New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute; Clinical Education Initiative; Harm Reduction Coalition; and Providers’ Clinical Support System For Medication Assisted Treatment.

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