Healthcare Happenings, August 2018
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In This Issue
St. Louis County Declares Opioid Addiction a Public Health Emergency
RHC Comments on New MO HealthNet Rule
Progress on the RHC's BHATC
Update on the RHC's Chronic Pain Initiative
Screening and Discussion of "The Color of Medicine"
Celebrate National Health Center Week with St. Louis
RHC in the News
Upcoming Events
About the RHC
St. Louis County Declares Opioid Addiction a Public Health Emergency

On June 28, 2018, the St. Louis County Executive signed an executive order declaring opioid addiction and overdose a public health emergency in St. Louis County.

An action plan was also released in conjunction with the declaration. The community-wide effort, led by the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, and involving 25 partner organizations including the RHC,  focuses on five key areas in the fight against opioid addiction including education, prevention and recovery. Click here for the action plan.

The RHC's Gateway to Better Health program, Chronic Pain Initiative, and Behavioral Health Assessment and Triage Center Feasibility Study  are referenced in the action plan. The RHC will remain active in the on-going discussions as the County implements the action plan. 

RHC Comments on New MO HealthNet Rule 
In late June, MO HealthNet (Medicaid) proposed a new rule, effective July 1, 2018, which would change the methodology by which the MO HealthNet Managed Care Health Plans reimburse for non-participating providers. With a narrow window for submitting comments, the RHC provided public comments to MO HealthNet.  Click here for the RHC's comments on the new MO HealthNet rule.

Additionally, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch  and  Kansas City Star  had "above-the-fold" articles about the proposed new rule for MO HealthNet. Please contact us anytime if you have questions or thoughts. 
Progress on the RHC's Behavioral Health Assessment and Triage Center Feasibility Study  
In the City of Saint Louis and Saint Louis County, many individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) and problematic substance use (SU) are not being adequately treated, resulting in an increased number of encounters in emergency departments (ED) and the criminal justice system. These systems may not be the appropriate settings for individuals with SMI and SU to receive support and treatment. Additionally, there is increasing pressure put on providers and first-responders due to recent trends in opioid abuse. Leaders across the St. Louis region recognize that an intentional process is needed to connect these individuals to resources that facilitate treatment, recovery, support services and housing. 

The Saint Louis Metropolitan Hospital Council met in November 2017 and formally requested that the RHC "serve as the coordinating entity and provide a dedicated staff person to support the community collaborative." Since the RHC approved the charge, the Behavioral Health Assessment and Triage Center Feasibility Study Planning Team has been focused on assessing unmet needs, gaps, and barriers to those who need crisis care for substance use and mental health needs.  The project was recently awarded a Missouri Foundation for Health grant to further the team's work going forward.
In addition to ongoing data collection and a regional system assessment, travel is planned to conduct site visits to existing crisis centers in Arizona and Texas, in addition to the Kansas models already being assessed. In late fall, the team will begin drafting recommendations to answer the question of whether such a crisis center(s) would be feasible for the St. Louis community.
If you or someone you know is interested in the RHC's Behavioral Health Assessment and Triage Center Feasibility Study , please join us at an upcoming meeting or contact April Jolly . As with all RHC meetings, the Behavioral Health Assessment and Triage Center planning team meetings are open to the public and listed on our website calendar.

Update on the RHC's Chronic Pain Initiative 

  1. The Gateway population has a high prevalence of musculoskeletal chronic pain (pain duration > 3 months).
  2. Multifaceted opportunities exist to improve chronic pain treatment and prevention for patients in the St. Louis safety network. 
In November 2017, the RHC's two Advisory Boards came to the consensus that chronic pain is an important regional public health issue, and the RHC subsequently approved chronic pain as a key focus area for 2018 - 2019.

To date, the RHC has conducted an extensive literature review, reviewing more than 100 research articles and policy documents to understand evidence-based models to treat pain and national priorities around chronic pain management. Additionally, the RHC has interviewed various stakeholders in our region, including providers and policy experts, about chronic pain in our community. Immediate next steps include drafting a policy statement  focused on local and State changes that could reduce the impact of and enhance prevention of chronic pain in the St. Louis region and the State of Missouri.  Future efforts include designing a clinical action guide and communication strategy around chronic pain. 

SLU Bander Center Event: "Chronic Pain and the Opioid Crisis"
On February 22, 2018, t he Saint Louis University Bander Center for Medical Business Ethics hosted a discussion titled, "Chronic Pain and the Opioid Crisis." Dr. Heidi Miller, Medical Director for Gateway to Better Health and Internal Medicine Physician at Family Care Health Centers, and Dr. Patrice Pye, Clinical Psychologist for Family Care Health Centers, discussed what chronic pain is, the ethical implications of how we approach/treat individuals who experience it, and efforts addressing chronic pain, including the RHC's Chronic Pain Initiative. Click here for the full discussion. 

"The Color of Medicine: The Story of Homer G. Phillips  Hospital" Screening and Discussion 

On Wednesday, July 25, 2018, more than 120 community members and stakeholders gathered on the historic Homer G. Phillips Hospital grounds at CareSTL Health (formerly Myrtle Hilliard Davis Comprehensive Health Centers, Inc.) for a film screening  of "The Color of Medicine: The Story of Homer G. Phillips Hospital."

The RHC, in partnership with the St. Louis Integrated Health Network (IHN) and CareSTL Healthco-hosted the screening of the documentary which captured the  history of medical training of African-Americans at Homer G. Phillips Hospital.

Following the screening, Bethany Johnson-Javois, CEO of the IHN, moderated a panel discussion with  "The Color of Medicine" filmmaker Joyce Fitzpatrick and producer Rebecca Robinson. Local panelists included Dr. Will Ross,  Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology and Associate Dean for Diversity at Washington University in St. Louis; Jobyna Foster, President of the Homer G. Phillips Nurses Alumni, Inc.; and Rosetta Keeton, Director of Patient Access for the RHC. 


Celebrate National Health Center Week with St. Louis August 18-24, 2018! 
Please join us as we celebrate St. Louis' community health centers and healthcare careers during our Regional Community Health Celebration, August 18-24, 2018! Click here for more details and to register. 

Kick off the Regional Community Health Celebration week with the Community Block Party Celebration on Saturday, August 18, 2018. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about our region's health centers, learn more about our community health workers, and access various services through a block party celebration. Join us as we celebrate with a spirit of enthusiasm, hope, and resilience for the work of the health care safety net.

Starting Monday, August 20, 2018, stop by the scheduled open houses, hosted by our community health centers! This is an opportunity to network with health center leadership, learn more about the various career opportunities in community-based healthcare and celebrate community change agents. 

All events are free and open to the public! Click here for the  Community Block Party Celebration flyer and here for the Community Health Center Open House flyer

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Your dedication and continued support are what make these efforts possible.  We look forward to continued partnership with you in the months ahead. 

Robert Fruend, Jr. 
Chief Executive Officer
St. Louis Regional Health Commission