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January 13, 2020

McLeod Receives Grant to Establish Opioid Stewardship Program

The McLeod Health Foundation has received $560,000 from The Duke Endowment to establish an opioid stewardship program at McLeod Regional Medical Center. This grant supports the mission of McLeod Health, which is to improve the overall health and well-being of people living within South Carolina and eastern North Carolina by providing excellence in health care.

The opioid epidemic continues to ravage the United States. Every day, 115 Americans die from opioid overdose. Years of opioid over-prescribing to manage pain, especially post-surgical pain, are to blame.

Over-prescribing is especially prevalent in our area. All McLeod service counties have opioid prescription rates higher than the already soaring national rate, with Florence County – home to McLeod Regional Medical Center (MRMC) – and neighboring Darlington County both more than doubling the national rate. Incredibly, nine of the 15 counties have more annual opioid prescriptions dispensed than residents.

The opioid stewardship program at MRMC will focus on limiting surgery-related opioid use.

McLeod Opioid Stewardship Program

This program’s overall goal is to reduce opioid utilization at MRMC while not increasing post-surgical pain scores. It is the result of the organization’s deep commitment to combating a nationwide epidemic that has brought devastating consequences to our region.

As part of the program, McLeod will implement education among all staff members involved in the surgical continuum of care regarding opioid prescribing limits, managing patients’ pain expectations and alternatives to opioids.

Dedicated state-certified pharmacy medication history technicians will ensure accurate pre-operation screenings of patients’ medication histories in order to create an effective, individualized medicine regiment.

While all patients will receive pain management education throughout the continuum of care, those deemed “high-risk” for opioid addictions (patients with high pain scores previously prescribed large opioid doses) will be referred to a pharmacist for customized pain regimens and discharge education.

In addition, all patients will receive education on how to appropriately manage their post-discharge opioid use.

Another component of this program is the formation of an Opioid Steering Committee, consisting of physicians, nurses and pharmacists. This committee will evaluate best practices for opioid prescribing and non-opioid alternatives for pain management, determine appropriate patient education, evaluate the latest evidence regarding non-opioid pain management and identify the heaviest opioid prescribers at McLeod Health.

“We are fortunate to have the support of The Duke Endowment to establish this opioid stewardship program,” said Jill Bramblett, Executive Director of the McLeod Health Foundation. “With their help, we are striving to build healthier communities and continuing to develop the outstanding health care that McLeod has been a leader in for more than a century.”