SAN LUIS VALLEY— San Luis Valley’s hospital emergency departments have joined together against the opioid epidemic. In a united effort, Conejos County Hospital (CCH), Rio Grande Hospital (RGH) and San Luis Valley Health’s Regional Medical plan to curb prescribing opioids in the emergency room setting.
The Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) developed an Alternative to Opioid (ALTO) plan and implemented a pilot program across the state with successful results. This plan includes resources, training and much more that has assisted the hospital staff to align their treatment and diagnosis and prescribing as much as possible.
“By combining our efforts across the SLV, it gives us confidence that patients will be treated the same regardless of which ED they are in. The ALTO program doesn’t dictate that we can no longer prescribe opioids, but provides us with alternative plans to help patients who are in pain with medicine that might not be as addictive down the road,” commented Dr. Megan Koenig, Medical Director at SLVH’s RMC ED.
Dr. Ely Walker, RGH physician, added to this statement, “The opioid epidemic has hit the San Luis Valley particularly hard with one of the highest death rates in the state.
Given that four out of five individuals with opioid use disorder become addicted first with prescription opioids, we are attempting to reduce initial exposures to opioids by treating pain with effective alternatives. We certainly don’t want patients to be in pain, but opioids are not always the best first choice and the guidelines from the CHA project will provide us with more tools in our toolbox to tailor pain treatment to each individual. We at Rio Grande Hospital are excited to partner with the other Valley hospitals in this initiative.”
Dr. Donna Nelson, medical director for SLVH CCH’s ED adds, “It takes all of us working together. Patients need options. We want to start the conversation with the patient in the emergency room when possible and help the individual by providing access to resources instead of just writing a prescription and then possibly never seeing that person again.”