July 18, 2016

U.S. Surgeon General visits St. Vincent Charity Medical Center

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D., is traveling the country to address the opioid crisis and visited St. Vincent Charity Medical Center July 12. He toured Rosary Hall at St. Vincent Charity to hear from health care providers, community members and advocates working to combat the opioid epidemic.

During his visit, he also spoke to the media in front of the hospital. He said that more treatment facilities must be opened to help opioid addicts overcome a disease that is killing scores of Ohioans every month. Dr. Murthy said plans for medication-assisted treatment centers are often met with resistance from local residents concerned about bringing addicts into their communities. But he said drugs such as buprenorphine and Vivitrol are effective tools in fighting addition.

"This is evidence-based treatment," Dr. Murthy said. "Science tells us it works, and if we can get more people access to it, then we can ultimately help save more lives."

He went on to say, “What we have to do is help people see it for what it is, which is a chronic disease like diabetes or heart disease—a disease that we have to treat with the same urgency and compassion as we would any other illness.”

Dr. Murthy visited Cleveland as part of his national "Turn the Tide" campaign, in which he is talking to health care professionals nationwide about reforming their opioid prescribing practices. His office will issue its first-ever report on substance abuse and addiction later this year.

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish also joined the event, telling reporters that a chief concern at the county level is advocating for raising the federal Medicaid reimbursement cap on the number of treatment beds from 30 to 100 per treatment facility. Waiting lists for facilities like Rosary Hall often hover around the two-week timeframe, and the county has publicly stated a goal of getting that down to five days or fewer. 

Several news outlets reported on Dr. Murthy’s visit, including The Plain Dealer, Channel 19 News and Cleveland Scene.

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

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