Hardin Memorial Health recently joined the new Kentucky Statewide Opioid Stewardship program, teaming up with hospitals across the state to fight opioid abuse.

The Kentucky Hospital Ass­o­ciation and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services formed the partnership to re­duce opioid overprescribing and improve safe opioid use.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Godfrey, M.D. and Assistant Vice President for Emergency Services Deanna Parker serve as HMH representatives. According to a news release, the statewide program will help develop standards around opioid prescribing, assist hospitals with implementation of these standards, improve education to medical staff and the community around pain management and track success of these efforts as a state.

Kentucky ranks among the top 10 states with the highest opioid-related overdose deaths rates, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“HMH cares for over 70,000 patients each year in one of Ken­tucky’s busiest emergency departments,” Parker said in the release. “We are actively working to address the challenges of the opioid crisis by practicing good opioid stewardship, evaluating alternative treatment options for pain management and educating patients and families about drug usage and risks.”

HMH also partners with community stakeholders including public health and emergency response agencies to try and reduce opioid overprescribing and improve safe opioid use, the release said. NARCAN rescue kits are available without a prescription at the hospital pharmacy as well. Anyone in need will be required to receive specific education from the hospital pharmacist upon obtaining the rescue kit, the release said.

As a member of Kentucky Statewide Opioid Stewardship program, HMH will receive opioid stewardship resources, access to clinical advisors and experts, access to the Kentucky Quality County data system to track progress, and support from the Kentucky Hospital Association, according to the release.

“Opioid abuse has had a devastating impact in Central Kentucky and beyond, and HMH’s entire leadership team is committed to become a leader in fighting the opioid epidemic,” Godfrey said in the release. “We are proud to work with local and state partners to advocate for safe opioid usage, to try and stop illegal activities and most importantly, to save lives.”

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