Sen. Rob Portman visits MetroHealth talk opioids, addiction and what’s being done in Ohio
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman was flanked by experts from health care, law enforcement, social services and government agencies. He came to MetroHealth to ask one question: What more can we do to win the fight against the opioid epidemic? It’s a question everyone on the panel is unfortunately used to discussing, even though it doesn’t have any easy answers.
Dr. Joan Papp talked about our Office of Opioid Safety – which she leads -- and what it’s accomplished in its first year. She specifically highlighted the office’s mission: to improve opioid safety here at MetroHealth and in the community through education, advocacy and treatment. Dr. Papp and Megan Liber also highlighted the work our Quick Response Teams are doing to get overdose survivors into treatment and recovery.
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Justin Herdman pointed out that a key component of making recovery services more successful is reducing public stigma about addiction. “We're at a point now where there's not universal awareness, but we've come a long way to making people understand the magnitude of this crisis,” he said.
Sen. Portman agreed. He said Ohio, and the entire country, needs a comprehensive approach to ending the epidemic. Reducing the supply of drugs will help, he said, but that alone is not a lasting solution to treating addiction and its causes.
MetroHealth President and CEO Dr. Akram Boutros summarized ongoing outreach efforts best. “Survivors are surprised that you care,” he explained, but the challenge is proving to them “that we REALLY do care" for programs to create lasting results.
Even if it may seem like the opioid epidemic is an unwinnable fight, progress is being made. For the first time in eight years, Cuyahoga County is on pace for fewer overdose deaths this year than the past 12 months. The answer to Sen. Portman’s question may never be easy, but that doesn’t mean people dedicated to improving the public’s health aren’t working on it.
For more on today’s program, visit Sen. Portman’s site.