Summer 2017

Ascension Responds to Nation's Opioid Epidemic With Integrated System-Wide Approach
A Message From Carol E. Hartmann, Director, Behavioral and Mental Health, Ascension Healthcare

CarolHartmannAscension Responds to Nation's Opioid Epidemic With Integrated System-Wide Approach
This issue of The Behavioral Health Connection is dedicated to Ascension’s multifaceted approach to one of the nation’s most serious public health issues — the opioid epidemic. You will hear from providers at all levels of our organization as they work to reduce the use of opioids for chronic pain management and to treat patients with opioid addiction and mental health issues. You will also hear from one patient about early problems with depression, then substance abuse, progression to heroin use and incarceration, and her road to recovery.

The complex problems created by opioid abuse have become a public health threat of unprecedented proportions. Many of Ascension’s health ministries have assembled dedicated teams to address this issue in multiple ways, including provider and community education, monitoring, and attention to pain assessment tools and pain management guidelines for cautious and effective treatment of our persons with chronic pain. The tools and guidelines were developed with the help of our Care Excellence team and input from hundreds of clinicians representing Ascension sites of care nationwide.

In January 2017, Ascension published its evidence-based approach to pain management, which includes a set of pain assessment tools and guidelines for chronic pain management, as well as effective alternatives to opioid prescriptions.

At Ascension, we are also fully committed to personalized patient care that addresses an individual’s chronic pain management in the context of a patient’s mind and body — that patient’s medical and behavioral health.

The multidisciplinary teams at St. Vincent Stress Center and Hospital in Indianapolis are an example of care providers working together and engaging their communities on holistic solutions for mental health patients and those with the disease of addiction, and those with both. Dr. Brian Quinn and others discuss their dual-diagnosis approach to treating patients mind and body.

According to Ascension Healthcare President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Patricia A. Maryland, “If we had not recognized the importance of elevating and integrating behavioral health, we would not be able to lead today in best practices in pain management therapies, nor would we be able to share best practices in the treatment of the patients who turn to us to fight opioid addiction and ensuing or underlying mental health problems.”

Carol E. Hartmann
Director, Behavioral and Mental Health Service Line
Ascension Healthcare