Illinois | 50 states of population health

JOHN JAY SHANNON, MD. CEO of Cook County Health & Hospitals System (Chicago)

On the top challenge

"The opioid crisis continues to be one of the most significant challenges for public health in Cook County and across Illinois. It is a growing threat: recent CDC numbers highlight a 66 percent increase in ED visits related to opioids between 2016 and 2017 in Illinois. There was a 70 percent increase in deaths in Illinois between 2013 and 2016, with 1,826 deaths attributed to opioids in 2016 statewide."

On the hospital's response

"Here in our own health system, we have seen a steady rise in opioid-related ED visits, from 1,000 in 2006 to 5,000 in 2016. CCHHS has invested in expanding access to medication-assisted treatment and other substance use disorder treatment, launching a Community Triage Center for persons in crisis, distributing naloxone to eligible individuals in our EDs and at the Cook County Jail, and training our providers on safe prescribing practices.

Yet, this is not enough. There is a need to expand capacity of mental health services statewide and provide wraparound support to those suffering from addiction. One of the best ways to stem the opioid epidemic is to ensure access to health coverage and care. This includes protecting provisions of the Affordable Care Act, particularly Medicaid expansion, and requirements that health plans must cover behavioral healthcare and substance abuse treatment. The medical community and society as a whole must destigmatize addiction and approach it as a life-long illness that requires ongoing care like other chronic illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease."

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