University Hospital CEO on Opioids, Vaping and Patient Care

Steve Adubato sits down with Shereef M. Elnahal, MD, MBA, President & CEO, University Hospital, to discuss the opioid epidemic, the rising vaping crisis and strategies to improve patient care. 1/11/2020 #330






"I'm Steve Adubato. This is State of Affairs. Coming to you from the NJTV Studio in Newark. It is our honor to introduce Doctor Shereef Elnahal, President and CEO of University Hospital. Good to see you. Thanks for having me Steve. The former Commissioner of Health in the state. How different is this job? It's different. But there's a lot of the same focus on public health issues. One way that it's different is that I'm actually running an organization that has such an important, storied history here in Newark. The hospital really promised tremendous things to the community here. There's a history of displaced communities, broken promises, particularly to the African-American community here in Newark. The hospital was part of that bargain, after the Newark Accords, to do something about that. And so there's a lot more community work that I do to help fulfill that promise. But I'm also focused on a lot of public health issues that I was focused on as commissioner. Top two? I would say the HIV-AIDS epidemic in Newark is top of mind. And also just chronic disease and how much that's affecting residents throughout Newark. You've also talked a lot about the opioid crisis. You've written about it. I have. You said, "We need to do more." Be more specific. So hospitals in particular have an important role to play. And my involvement in this started when I was in the state Governor Murphy really pushed us to do everything we can for the epidemic. And so one of the initiatives was reducing overprescribing of opioids. We took best practices from across the state and tried to scale them. That is a funded program now. University Hospital has its own version of that program called S.T.O.M.P. S.T.O.M.P.? Stomp out opioids and treat addiction. So what we're doing is having every single pathway possible for our emergency room physicians to prescribe things besides opioids, and connecting our patients to as many alternative treatments for pain as possible. The goal is not only to avoid opioids, but to be successful in treating pain. Because if you're not successful, somebody's going to go elsewhere just to get opioids. So we've had some great success with that. 70% reduction over just a few years in opioid prescribing. Give me another topic that you care deeply about. I really care about doing a lot more for population health in Newark. You know, the term population health is thrown around a lot. Define it. It is going above and beyond outside the traditional walls of the healthcare system to do what you need to do to make patients better. If that means doing things like helping them replace their carpet, which is causing their child to go to the emergency room for asthma, with tile. Or if that means..."