With ~5 Michiganders killed each day by opioid overdoses and more than 100,000 annual opioid deaths in the U.S.,* a new clinic in the Hurley Emergency Department is most timely.
Hurley ED faculty Ryan J Reece MD leads the new telehealth MOUD clinic, which focuses on medication for opioid-use disorders (MOUD). He said it's important to provide this comprehensive service to the Flint area because it can save lives.
"We are in the midst of an OUD epidemic; more people are dying from overdoses than ever," Reece said. "We need to get people into treatment."
Reece, who is the supervising faculty member when Hurley resident physicians rotate in the Hurley ED, graduated from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, where he also completed his emergency-medicine residency. He is board-certified in emergency medicine and is now working toward certification in addiction medicine.
The clinic has external funding from the federal and state government to support the program.
Why does Hurley need this?
"Hurley has always been a leader in the community," said Reece. "This is the next step at modernizing opioid use disorder (OUD) care. We need to destigmatize treatment for opioid use disorder - to treat it like any other chronic illness. We have the resources and willingness to support such a program."
The MOUD program uses a very collaborative approach, said Reece.
"The ED social workers, providers and nurses all play a huge role in helping this population receive much needed treatment," he said. "It provides another tool to help our patients.”
Why the Emergency Department?
The ED is the logical place to offer the clinic, Reece said, adding that "the ED is often the primary source of medical care for individuals with opioid-use disorders (OUD)."
ED visits offer an opportunity to access life-saving treatment - and that's where medical providers can best identify individuals with untreated OUD help to motivate them to accept treatment. The clinic will allow them to safely, effectively treat opioid withdrawal symptoms, initiate evidence-based treatment, refer individuals to ongoing care, and to reduce harm by offering overdose education and dispensing naloxone (opioid-reversal) kits.
Is addiction a medical disease?
Instead of understanding addiction as a moral or spiritual failing, many medical professionals have begun to view OUD as a medical disease, said Reece. The disease of addiction can be caused by repeated exposure to a drug, coupled with genetic or environmental risk factors, leading to physical changes in the brain’s opioid receptors. In this view, addiction can be treated and managed with medication, much like other chronic medical conditions. Medication has been shown to provide an evidence-based, safe, controlled level of treatment to overcome the use of a problem opioid. Hurley’s program offers a safe, comfortable environment for patients who suffer from OUD.
Treatment is multidisciplinary and multifactoral, said Reece. It includes:
- Consultation with an ED social worker
- Telemedicine appointments with ED providers
- Referral to New Paths, Inc., a local substance-use-disorder treatment program, which also has external funding to support their efforts.
Benefits of the MOUD Clinic
- Facilitates safer withdrawal by relieving symptoms and controlling cravings
- Reduces risk of death due to overdose
- Increases treatment retention with safer, controlled medications
- Works to decrease illegal drug use and, with it, potential dangers
Call 810-262-6516 to schedule and appointment or obtain more information.
- 2020 Michigan Opioids Task Force Report.
- Stobbe, Mike. US overdose deaths topped 100,000 in one year, officials say. Associated Press. 17-NOV-2021.
Patricia Uhde of Hurley Planning & Marketing contributed to this blog.