Pubdate: Sun, 26 Jan 2003
Source: Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
Copyright: 2003 Lexington Herald-Leader
Author: Stephen C. Hanson
Note: Hanson is President and CEO Appalachian Regional Healthcare


The Herald-Leader's Jan. 19 editorial on the prescription painkiller 
problem in Eastern Kentucky calls for institutions involved in health care 
and law enforcement to "make a strong, concerted effort to help Eastern 
Kentucky kick its habit."

Appalachian Regional Healthcare, a not-for-profit system serving Eastern 
Kentucky and southern West Virginia, has initiated widespread dialogue and 
action toward solving the drug issue for the past year. Our system took 
steps to assure that problems associated with prescription painkillers 
remain a priority in our organization and in the communities we serve:

All ARH hospitals and clinics maintain a strict policy on dispensing only 
the correct amount of pain medication and other prescription drugs and 
maintaining strict control over drug inventories.

ARH trustees have made substance abuse rehabilitation in the region a board 
priority. Last summer, ARH convened a meeting in Hazard of legislators, 
judge-executives, district judges, hospital representatives and the 
lieutenant governor. Opportunities to collaborate in preventing and solving 
drug-related problems were identified. All parties pledged to cooperate by 
sharing information and resources.

For more than a year, Eastern Kentucky's not-for-profit hospitals have met 
to discuss ways to respond to this drug crisis. Our actions must also 
include the participation of the entire Eastern Kentucky community 
including government, law enforcement, courts, schools, business and church 
groups. Solutions must include prevention; detoxification; acute, long-term 
and partial care; and stronger employment and educational opportunities.

Continued dialogue and collective, definitive action by all stakeholders 
can yield the solutions necessary for Eastern Kentucky to see a marked 
decrease in this problem.

Stephen C. Hanson President and CEO

Appalachian Regional Healthcare

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