Health notes: Doctors get serious about opioid abuseMinnesota’s doctors are tackling prescription drug abuse.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
Minnesota’s doctors are tackling prescription drug abuse.
The Minnesota Medical Association on Wednesday announced the creation of a task force consisting of 15 doctors, one resident and one student to address the issue. It began meeting in December and will continue through this year.
Dr. Dan Maddox, the group’s president, said in a news release that doctors need to be able to prescribe narcotics — also called opioids — to help patients manage serious pain. “But we also need to ensure that opioids are prescribed responsibly and that illegal diversion of these powerful drugs is reduced,” he said.
A joint investigation by the Duluth News Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press published in December reported a three-fold increase in the number of Minnesotans who died from prescription opiates between 1999 and 2010. It also revealed a 100 percent
increase in the number of Minnesotans seeing treatment for opiate addiction since 2007, emergency rooms reporting an increase in admission for opiate overdoses and jails reporting increases in the number of inmates saying they’d used opiates just before being arrested.
The task force hopes to raise awareness among Minnesota doctors about the problems associated with prescription drug addiction, look at strategies to improve physician management of the drugs, and identify best practices for opioid prescribing, the news release said.
With widespread outbreaks of influenza reported in 41 states — including Minnesota and Wisconsin — the Northland chapter of the American Red Cross is urging people who haven’t gotten flu shots yet to do so.
“Reports of illnesses, hospitalizations and even deaths are to be taken seriously, and there are many locations to get the vaccine across the Northland,” said Judy Hanne Gonzales, the chapter’s executive director.
A 14-year-old St. Louis Park, Minn., girl died of the flu on Tuesday, the fifth death in the state this flu season, the Associated Press reported. More than 900 Minnesotans have been hospitalized so far, according to AP.
Essentia Health announced it is offering a walk-in flu booth to help meet the demand for flu vaccines.
The shots will be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Friday and on Jan. 17 and 18 in the lobby of the Essentia Health-Duluth Clinic First Street Building, 420 E. First St. No appointment is necessary.
The vaccination is recommended for anyone 6 months old and older.
Clinic changes name
A local ophthalmology clinic has joined St. Luke’s.
Austin & Treacy PA became known as St. Luke’s Ophthalmology Associates on Jan. 1, a St. Luke’s news release said.
The practice, which consists of Drs. Kevin Treacy and Kevin Mueller, has been providing routine eye exams, treatment of refractive errors and diagnosis and treatment of eye injuries and disease for more than three decades, the news release said.
The clinic will remain at the Medical Arts Building, 324 W. Superior St., Suite 800. Patients also are seen at facilities in Hermantown, Two Harbors, Cloquet, Moose Lake and Grand Marais.
Helping kids behave
A one-day workshop will offer five essential tasks for dealing with challenging behaviors in children and adolescents.
The Children’s Challenging Behavior class will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 19 at Amberwing, 615 Pecan Ave. Sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Minnesota, it is designed for parents and caregivers of school-age children and is approved for two hours training for foster care families.
To register, call NAMI Minnesota at (651) 645-2948 or (888) NAMI-Helps.
Mental health first aid
A 12-hour certification course in mental health first aid will be offered in Duluth next month.
The course, from 5-8:15 p.m. on Feb. 19, 21, 26 and 28, will take place at Amberwing, 615 Pecan Ave. The course is for anyone, including first responders, students, teachers, leaders of faith communities and human resources professionals.
Sponsored by the Miller-Dwan Foundation, the course will be led by Lee Berlinquette, a certified mental health first aid instructor.
To sign up, request a registration form from the Miller-Dwan Foundation by calling (218) 786-5829 or visit www.mdfoundation.org. The fee to attend is $100, and 12 hours of continuing education will be provided.
Health on TV
“Women’s Health” will be the subject of this week’s “Doctors on Call” at 7 tonight on PBS North, Channels 8.1 and 31.1.
Dr. Ruth Westra will host the discussion with a panel of experts. Viewers are encouraged to phone in their questions at (218) 788-2844 or toll-free at (877) 307-8762.
That will be followed by the weekly mental health program, “Speak Your Mind” at 7:30. This week’s topic is “Technology, Social Media and Kids.”