Leadership Gift from Fenimore Asset Management Is Helping Cobleskill Regional Hospital and Bassett Healthcare Network Fight Opioid Addiction
Opioid addiction is a significant problem, both locally and nationally. Bassett Healthcare Network is addressing this problem with innovative solutions, dedicated professionals, and award-winning programs. Bassett's integration of its addiction treatment program into primary care has just been honored with the 2018 Pinnacle Award for Quality and Patient Safety from HANYS, the Healthcare Association of New York State. The award recognizes organizations that are playing a leading role in promoting improvements in health care delivery in New York State.
Each day, 115 Americans die from opioid drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Addiction to opioids affects all of our communities and all of our neighborhoods, touching parents and children, grandparents and siblings.
Fenimore Asset Management's leadership gift to Cobleskill Regional Hospital is supporting Bassett's efforts and helping Bassett providers to build partnerships with community organizations, health centers, pharmacists, and schools as they work together to help addicts find their way out of addiction.
David DeSando, the director of pharmacy at Cobleskill Regional Hospital, has been educating teachers at public schools in Schoharie County about opioid abuse and how to save their students from deadly overdoses. He goes into the community and distributes Narcan, a medication that counteracts the effect of opioid drugs, free of charge, and shows teachers how to use it. His educational brochure, Surviving an Opioid Overdose, has been named a best practice by the Joint Commission, an agency that accredits hospitals.
This is just one program that began at Cobleskill Regional Hospital and has grown to help many in our community. Other programs involve efforts that begin with a visit to the emergency department.
At Cobleskill Regional Hospital, Dr. Deborah Funk-Valois has developed an advanced protocol for diagnosing and treating patients who enter the emergency department during an opioid overdose. This protocol involves quick interventions, education of both patient and whoever brought the patient in, then follow-up calls and referrals to specialty care. Dr. Funk-Valois often refers patients to Dr. Roxanne Lewin, a psychologist in Bassett's Cobleskill Health Center with expertise in addiction, who sees these patients after they leave the emergency department, at least until they are stable enough to continue care with a primary care physician.
At Bassett's Cobleskill Health Center, 50 patients are treated in the primary care setting, where Dr. Joseph Sellers, medical director, and Sandra Falco, nurse manager, oversee addiction treatment. These patients receive medication to assist them with recovery. Seeking treatment in the primary care setting removes any perceived "stigma" that patients or family members may associate with seeking help in a mental health setting.
"Addiction is not a choice," nurse manager Sandra Falco emphasized." "It's a chronic condition, a neurological condition, and we need to treat it thoughtfully and carefully as we would any other chronic condition."
Providers at Cobleskill Regional Hospital and Cobleskill Health Center work with a variety of community agencies fighting addiction. One way they do this is through education; another is by providing safe, free prescription drug drop-off spots at convenient locations in the community.
Patients struggling with addiction need support and patience. They may relapse, and some may overdose several times. The road to recovery is long and bumpy, but there is hope and help available.
The gift from Fenimore Asset Management is helping to support providers in Cobleskill as they work with addicts and their families to help them toward recovery.
Addressing the problem of opioid addiction requires a community effort. Bassett physicians such as Dr. Joseph Sellers, psychologists such as Dr. James Anderson, and nurses such as Sandra Falco, have collaborated to train primary care providers to offer appropriate care for opioid addicts in their medical homes, to understand addiction, and to provide medication-assisted treatment so that patients fighting addiction can do so more effectively.
If you know someone affected by addiction, you can help by making a gift to support efforts to combat opioid abuse. You can make a gift online or send a gift to Friends of Bassett, 1 Atwell Road, Cooperstown, NY 13326.
You can also register to run in the 5K race in Cobleskill sponsored by Fenimore Asset Management on Saturday, September 22. All proceeds from that race will be dedicated to Cobleskill Regional Hospital.