Last week I attended the CCMC case management conference. I usually attend the WCRI conference every year and this year the schedule for the two conferences conflicted. I missed WCRI and #1 felt a little bit left out, and #2 it was in Arizona instead of Boston in February, need I say more about that? However, I was ultimately glad I chose to attend this conference directly related to my case management profession instead.
There were some wonderful sessions, including a session titled, ‘Better Health through Better Partnerships’, conducted by the 20th Surgeon General of the United States – Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, MD, MPH. He says everyone refers to him as the Nation’s Doctor, but he prefers to be thought of as the representative of the nation’s patients. He also mentioned that when he is in his uniform sometimes people mistake him for an airline pilot and one time a fellow air traveler asked him for peanuts.
I shared some tweets about that session and our #rockstar Surgeon General (which is a reference to his daughter who chose to write a paper for Black History Month about the first female black astronaut instead of him). We all decided to tweet he was a #rockstar to make him feel better.
Prior to serving as the Surgeon General he served as the Indiana State Health Commissioner. He shared some of the information about a county in Indiana that had a higher proportional HIV ratio than Sub Saharan Africa. He described how he tackled this outbreak. Vice Admiral Adams involved the community leaders and found out the actual cause of the problem, what the community leaders concerns were, explored with the community how they best thought this outbreak could be halted, and then after listening and developing rapport, was able to institute best practice methods including needle disposal and exchange methods without push back from this conservative rural county. As a side benefit, as the population engaged with the health providers they began to address the underlying issue; Substance Use Disorder.
Vice Admiral Adams believes the number one hot button voting issues for people are Jobs and the Economy. Number two is Safety and Security. So how do we frame health issues from an economic viewpoint? He believes we as Case Managers can assist in improving health issue discussions from both financial and safety viewpoints – that these are two areas in which Case Managers excel.
He also shared some very personal glimpses into his family. He shared his brother is currently serving a 10-year prison term regarding crimes related to his Opioid Use Disorder. He stated instead of “Let’s get tough on crime, let’s get everyone in the room and figure this out. Let’s figure out options and build resilience.”
Vice Admiral Adams also pointed out with a person dying every 11 minutes from an opioid use disorder, we are as likely to need naloxone as our CPR skills. He asked do we carry naloxone? Do we as Case Managers encourage physicians to co-prescribe naloxone along with opioid prescriptions? He also requested we share a link to his most recent publication: https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov , regarding the five steps you can take to prevent opioid misuse. He encouraged us to help policy makers know investing in the health of their citizens yields positive financial results.
He then spoke on one of my pet topics: the lack of availability of addiction specialists or inpatient beds to treat opioid use disorder. He agrees there will never be enough treatment beds or specialists. So how do we get treatment to those in need? Let’s look at telemedicine, removing the stigma of addiction and encouraging the treatment at the primary care level. Use your voice to spread this message. There are some research studies out there that prove treatment at the primary care level can be very effective.
In my next article I will report on the plenary session conducted by Dr. Robert Pearl on the future of healthcare.