Opioid Task Force Prepares to Enter Mission’s Next Phase
Ed Kopetsky – CIO, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital
Just prior to the CHIME HIMSS CIO Forum in Orlando, Fla., the Opioid Task Force met to discuss our plans for 2019. It was an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the first year’s achievements and reflect on what we still needed to do to make a dent in the opioid epidemic. It also was a chance to thank a partner who helped us get the task force off the ground, and welcome new leaders to take us though our next chapter.
We formed the CHIME Opioid Task Force in early 2018 to leverage the healthcare IT expertise and national network of members in CHIME and the CHIME Foundation to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic. I was truly honored to have Jim Turnbull serve with me as a co-chair. Jim has been a long-term friend and is close with my family. Jim supported us through our son Tim’s struggles with opioid addiction, and shared our hope and joy as Tim pulled free from opioids’ grip and excelled in life during recovery for nearly five years. And he mourned with us when Tim passed away, succumbing within hours of contact with heroin as he came to the aid of a friend who had relapsed and overdosed. Our conversation after Tim’s service in 2017 sparked the creation of the CHIME Opioid Task Force.
Besides being a great friend, Jim is a great leader. As co-chair, he helped to build a foundation for the task force to take on addictions’ challenges. In our first year, the task force defined our mission and scope, launched a free and open webinar series to share best practices around the world and released the first three chapters of a play book for CIOs. CHIME’s public policy team has worked with us to ensure healthcare IT leaders’ voice is heard in Washington on IT-related policies, regulations and laws that address the opioid crisis.
Credit goes to our task force members, a group of CHIME members and CHIME Foundation members who have committed countless volunteer hours to these initiatives, including strategies to reduce unnecessary prescriptions of opioids in our health systems and communities. At our meeting, we announced that two of these outstanding members are taking over for Jim and joining me as co-chairs. They are Patty Lavely, senior vice president and CIO at Gwinnett Medical Center, and Dave Lehr, vice president and CIO at Anne Arundel Medical Center.
Patty and Dave will help lead us through an important next phase for the task force. Earlier we had kicked off a fundraising campaign to support the task force going forward and develop the Health IT Action Center, an online resource for healthcare organizations to help implement systems and practices to address the opioid crisis. Nordic CEO Bruce Cerullo co-chaired the drive with me, and thanks to generous support of CHIME members and Foundation partners, we are nearly halfway to our goal of raising $750,000 through donations and pledges. We sincerely appreciate everyone’s support and encourage anyone who believes in our cause to donate here.
We also will continue to host educational webinars and offer our expertise to shape opioid policies. We expect to publish the final play book chapters in the next few months, too. We know that CHIME and the CHIME Opioid Task Force are making a difference, and we also know we can’t let up. This will be a long and challenging battle, but one we can win. If you would like to join us, please email [email protected].