A Small Town Take on Opioid Abuse | CommonSpirit

Kurt: When you’re driving through the country like this it’s different than the metro where, in the metro everybody assumes that we have patients addicted to Heroin and we have, you know, drug abuse and I think when you drive through a place like this where there’s trees, and woods, and lakes, you don’t associate it with heroin addiction and the reality is we’re probably driving by houses where people suffer from that. What people need to realize is that rural Minnesota is really no different. Initially when we started to look into what was going on, what we found is that we have three pills for every person in our county every month coming out of the Pharmacies that were opioid. Which was a hundred-thousand pills a month out of three pharmacies. Most people don’t have a clue how powerful addiction is, uhm, i don’t think I did. Because, when patients need this type of attention it’s an emergency. When we started doing medical assisted treatment we had people drive in from all over our state just to get into our program. These are patients who are ready to make a change, and if they’re withdrawing, and sick, and at the bottom and you tell them to come tomorrow, you’re never going to see them again. And that’s what we teach other communities, making them understand we’re not going to fix this opioid epidemic if it’s convenient for us. We’re going to fix it if it’s convenient for someone who needs help at that moment. When I was in highschool I really don’t think I ever planned on becoming a doctor. I was a runner, and I started running in the morning with our local surgeon who kind of changed the direction of my life. He was a guy that gave back, he was a guy who spent a lot of his extra time helping people and unfortunately he died a few years back and I never had that chance to tell him how much that meant. I kind of felt like finally I had done what I think he trained me to do, it’s really what you’re supposed to do. When you look at things happening around you, you gotta care about something, the opioid epidemic has killed thousands of people, and you shouldn’t be able to walk away from it. You should not. Everything that we’ve developed we give away. We’ve been to towns as small as four or five hundred, we’ve been to towns of five to ten thousand, and we’re actually not specialists. We are family practice primary care doctors teaching other primary care doctors how to take care of a problem. Kurt on video conference: Thanks everyone for coming.
a problem. Kurt on video conference: Thanks everyone for coming. We’ve got people from Alaska, North Dakota, and Minnesota. You have to really become what the community needs. That’s why we’re making the difference we’re making is because when they want help we’re there. And now we’re building a community of people who all kind of have the same feeling, and we’re gonna win. You know, let’s do this together, let’s win.

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