Opioid Crisis Takes Spotlight at Forum

Opioid Crisis Takes Spotlight at Forum

The Chief Medical Officer of OSF Sacred Heart Medical Center in Danville, Dr. Vincent Kucich, says he is glad to see the opioid crisis finally getting the attention it needs.  Dr. Kuchich was one of the speakers at a forum on the opioid crisis hosted by OSF HealthCare in Danville.  He told the audience at Danville Area Community College that he had just lost a good friend from a drug overdose only hours before Friday’s forum.

Christine Swartz, director of the StepOne Service at Sacred Heart, was another panelist.  She says the program is a 3-5 day voluntary stay at the hospital for management of withdrawal symptoms for alcohol and opioids.  And Swartz says the pilot program which launched this spring is doing better than expected….

{”We were expecting three to five patients a month, and we have had about ten to twelve a month on average.  Right now we’ve had twenty-eight total – so we’re about ninety days in and we’re getting bombarded quite a bit,” said Swartz. ”But we’re taking it in stride and we’re doing an awesome job, I think.  We’re all working very well together – OSF, their hospital, nurses, everybody.”}

[Panelists speak out at Opioid Crisis Forum. You
can click on the photo to enlarge it.]

Swartz says the program was launched by OSF Sacred Heart Medical Center at the urging of the Step Up program at Danville’s Second Church of Christ….

{”They have this idea of what they want to do – how to help Vermilion County.  And they worked very much with OSF in trying to get some type of program to help with the opioid crisis that’s going on.  And that’s where we came from.  That’s why OSF kind of stepped up and helped. And hopefully, eventually it will spread around to all OSF and get something going on to help,” said Swartz.}

Dr. Kucich noted 191 million opiod prescriptions were dispensed by pharmacies in the United States in 2017.  He added that he never thought it was good that some states have legalized marijuana.  Several members on the panel Friday described marijuana as a ‘’gateway drug’’ that leads to the use of more potent drugs.

[In the above photo the panelists from left to right are Ellen and Lowell Mennenga, who lost a son to opioids — Joe Trotter of the Champaign County Health Department, Scott Crawley of VMEG, Dr. Vincent Kucich, and Christine Swartz.]