Morgan County health care professionals hear about the “disease of addiction”

Addiction doesn’t make any sense and purely punitive approaches to ending addiction will not work, Dr. John Sanders, the medical director for hospice and palliative medicine at St. Claire HealthCare in Morehead, told a group of Morgan County health care professionals on July 18.

Sanders’ presentation in West Liberty – delivered in Commercial Bank’s Community Room – included a discussion of how the medical establishment’s understanding and treatment of addiction have evolved over time, how some physicians have contributed to prescription abuse and the history of 12-step programs and how they work.

The talk, co-sponsored by the Northeast Kentucky Area Health Education Center, is just one of the community outreach events planned as part of the Kentucky Office of Rural Health (KORH)-led Critical Access Substance Abuse Project (CASAP).

The one-year project, funded through the Health Resources & Services Administration’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, seeks to address substance-abuse issues and concerns at the hospital and community level through education and working to improve patient access to treatment options. The project also tries to better link the participating hospitals with their surrounding communities so that both can work together to meet the needs of their patients with substance-use disorders.

Morgan County ARH Hospital is one of the project’s hospital partners.

Ernie Scott, the director of the KORH, said that Sanders’ presentation provided a good opportunity for area health care providers to learn more about substance-abuse addiction and its treatment.

“Any time that we can get medical professionals together in the same room talking about one of the state’s most serious health issues, I think we’re doing some important work,” Scott said. “We hope that the health care professionals attending Dr. Sanders’ presentation walked away with an enhanced understanding of the complexities of addiction and the work that still needs to be done in our communities to deal with the everyday realities of substance abuse.”

Besides Morgan County ARH Hospital, the other critical access hospitals participating in the CASAP include ARH Our Lady of the Way, Barbourville ARH Hospital, Ephraim McDowell Fort Logan Hospital, Marcum and Wallace Memorial Hospital, Mary Breckinridge ARH Hospital, McDowell ARH Hospital, Ohio County Hospital, Russell County Hospital and Wayne County Hospital.

The Kentucky Office of Rural Health (KORH), established in 1991, is a federal-state partnership authorized by federal legislation. The UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health (located in Hazard) serves as the federally-designated Kentucky Office of Rural Health. The mission of the KORH is to support the health and well-being of Kentuckians by promoting access to rural health services. The program provides a framework for linking small rural communities with local, state and federal resources while working toward long-term solutions to rural health issues. The KORH assists clinicians, administrators and consumers in finding ways to improve communications, finances and access to quality healthcare while ensuring that funding agencies and policymakers are made aware of the needs of rural communities.

Photo: Dr. John Sanders, the medical director for hospice and palliative medicine at St. Claire HealthCare in Morehead

MEDIA CONTACT: Michael McGill, 606-439-3557,