Oklahoma Judge Orders J&J to Pay
As we were going to layout on the September issue, an Oklahoma judge issued a landmark ruling in one of many cases across the country brought against opioid manufacturers and marketers.
Judge Thad Balkman ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for the company's role in stoking Oklahoma's opioid epidemic. State Attorney General Mike Hunter successfully argued J&J pushed doctors to prescribe opioids while downplaying the addictive risk of the drugs, thereby creating a 'public nuisance.' While a number of other pharmaceutical companies have settled, J&J opted to go to court in a case that has been seen as a litmus test for thousands of other pending lawsuits by states and cities dealing with the wreckage of the opioid crisis. Although the monetary verdict was hefty, it was significantly less than the $17 billion Hunter requested. J&J's attorney is expected to immediately appeal.
Mark Your Calendar
Celebration of Courage
A Breakfast to Benefit Park Center
Tuesday, Sept. 17 • 7:30-9 am
The Westin Nashville
This annual breakfast event raises awareness and funds for Park Center to support programming for people with chronic mental illness, homelessness and addiction. Although there is no cost to attend, reservations are required and donations are greatly appreciated. Go to ParkCenterNashville.org to make reservations.
Spero Opens Dickson Facility
Brentwood-based Spero Health, a CARF-accredited organization specializing in outpatient addiction treatment, opened their new Dickson Spero Health Clinic in late July. This latest addition marks the organization's 27th clinic and aligns with the company's plan to further expand in Tennessee to address the opioid epidemic.
"Our approach is designed to provide rapid access to care in order to treat this chronic disease, making it possible to see patients the very same day they seek treatment. Individuals need a local option so they can remain in their communities developing life skills in order to continue working and caring for their families," said Spero CEO Steve Priest.
The Dickson clinic has named Dean Harless, MD, clinic medical director and lead physician. Harless is board certified in internal medicine and board eligible in addiction medicine. Spero Health is enrolled with TennCare, as well as select commercial plans.
JourneyPure Names National Medical Director
Stephen Loyd, MD
Nashville-based JourneyPure, a national provider of addiction treatment and mental health services, has named Stephen Loyd, MD as national medical director, effective immediately.
Loyd joined JourneyPure in May 2018 to serve as medical director for services in Middle Tennessee including four outpatient clinics and the flagship residential facility JourneyPure At The River in Murfreesboro. As he transitions to this new role, he will focus his efforts on the immediate implementation of universal medical protocols in all JourneyPure markets, in addition to providing consultation regarding medical service delivery, quality assurance, medication assistance, and other duties. He will also continue his Middle Tennessee duties on a part-time basis.
A widely recognized thought leader and clinician, Loyd has decades of experience in internal medicine, mental health, and substance abuse services. His background includes service as medical director and assistance commissioner for Substance Abuse Services with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and an appointment to Governor Bill Haslam's Opioid Workgroup and Public Safety Subcabinet.
An ardent activist for those living with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders, Loyd brings firsthand knowledge to his role in helping those struggling with addiction as he has been in recovery from opioids and benzodiazepines since 2004.
JourneyPure has rapidly expanded its footprint in regional markets throughout the southeastern United States, currently serving patients through six residential treatment facilities and a dozen outpatient clinics throughout Tennessee, Kentucky, and Florida. All JourneyPure facilities offer Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in combination with counseling and behavioral therapy to provide an effective, holistic approach to treatment.
Highest Judicial Honor Bestowed on Tennessee Judge for Work on Opioid Crisis
Judge Duane Slone
Tennessee Judge Duane Slone is the 2019 recipient of the National Center for State Courts' (NCSC) William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, one of the highest judicial honors in the country. Judge Slone, of the Circuit Court in the Fourth Judicial District, is being recognized for his ground-breaking work helping people with opioid use disorder. The award will be presented to Judge Slone by the Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. during a ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court November 21. He is the first Tennessee judge to win the prestigious award.
Combatting the opioid epidemic is not just a professional commitment for Judge Slone. It's personal. In 2011, he and his wife, Gretchen, adopted an infant son who was born suffering from withdrawals as a result of his birth mother's opioid use. "That's when I did a deep dive into this problem. I was motivated by Joseph."
Although he had presided over drug court for years, once Joseph came into his life, Judge Slone gained a much different perspective about addiction. He sought information from medical professionals who explained substance use disorder as a chronic brain disorder. "Simply put, my child's mother experienced cravings for opioids that were 10 times more powerful than my cravings for food ... for Joseph's mother, her opioid use was a matter of survival," he said.
This knowledge and understanding has shaped Judge Slone's approach to helping those who come into his court. "We must understand that addiction is a preventable, treatable condition and people recover. We must go as far upstream as possible, meet people where they are, and provide hope and healing. I believe it is our duty as judges to find a way to help them."
His approach has transformed not only a number of Tennessee courts but other courts around the country. He has created or helped found a number of innovative programs and has partnered with the Tennessee Department of Health to implement a NAS prevention initiative, which has been credited with reducing the incidence of newborns suffering from NAS by as much as 60 percent in the pilot counties.
Elected to the bench in 1998, Judge Slone co-founded the Fourth Judicial District Drug Recovery Court in 2009, co-founded a Veterans' Treatment Track in 2015, and chairs the eight-state Appalachian-Midwestern Regional Opioid Initiative, as well as the Tennessee Judicial Opioid Initiative. He is also a member of the National Judicial Opioid Task Force.
CaredFor, ILC Partner to Support Ongoing Recovery
Nashville-based CaredFor, a mobile app company that helps treatment centers build long-lasting relationships with clients and alumni, has signed Integrative Life Center (ILC) as one of its newest clients. ILC is the eighth treatment center in Middle Tennessee to partner with CaredFor.
Offering a full continuum of care for individuals suffering from mental health disorders, substance use disorders, eating disorders, co-occurring disorders, and other addictions, ILC has made client communication and alumni relations a priority. CEO Ryan Chapman noted, "Reintegration into real life and the real world after treatment improves greatly when alumni are part of a community that welcomes and supports them. We live in a digital world driven by technology, and we knew an ILC app was the best way to further support our clients, their families and our alumni community."
The new ILC app powered by CaredFor includes:
- A peer support network where users can post content and engage with other users' posts,
- A recovery counter for tracking anniversaries,
- A gratitude journal to record positive life moments,
- Quizzes, challenges and other content that encourage user engagement, and
- Private messaging among clients and their treatment team.
ILC enrolls clients in their app as soon as they begin treatment. Clients use the app to schedule appointments and contact their treatment team between sessions, then transition to alumni status once they complete treatment. Family members are also invited to join so they have a place to ask questions, get support and receive updates about treatment (with client approval).
"For someone finding their footing after treatment, there is nothing more important than access to a community that knows them and understands them" said Chapman. "With the ILC app, their peer support network and ILC family is just a click away."
CaredFor CEO Parker Polidor said the platform allows important relationships built during treatment to continue. "CaredFor helps the treatment center extend that shared experience beyond the physical walls and build a community that wants to help one another succeed," he said.
Additionally, he noted, "Every treatment center wants to tout long-term success to prospective patients and payers. CaredFor provides the engagement data and assessments that help measure the outcomes and success of treatment programs."
Currently, CaredFor is being used by 12,000 users at 75 treatment centers in 20 states and Canada.
ReVIDA, 180 Health Partners Work Together to Address NAS
Lee Dillworth, CEO of Nashville-based ReVIDA Recovery Centers, recently announced a new partnership with Franklin-based 180 Health Partners to address Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).
ReVIDA and 180 Health Partners, a hybrid care provider using a relationship-based model to help opioid-exposed expecting mothers deliver healthy babies, will coordinate care for expectant moms at all seven ReVIDA locations in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. ReVIDA physicians and counselors will work with patients at their facilities while 180 Health Partners uses its StrongWell approach to care for substance-exposed mothers and build relationships with them. StrongWell delivers structured prenatal care as it supports pregnant women on their path to recovery by reducing the risk or decreasing the severity of NAS.
"180 Health Partners is reducing the number of babies who suffer with NAS through its integrated care model that builds supportive care communities, stabilizes social determinants of health, and fills the gaps in care that substance-exposed mothers often face" said Justin Lanning, 180 Health Partners president and CEO.
"It's often said that it takes a village to raise a child, and through our partnership with 180 Health Partners, ReVIDA is dedicated to helping expecting mothers reclaim their lives from opioid use disorder and protect their child at the same time," added Dilworth.
Judge Jennifer Smith Takes Over As Presiding Judge Of Davidson County Drug Court
For more than 20 years, the Davidson County Drug Court Residential Treatment Program has been a statewide and national leader in the effort to reduce recidivism, lower costs, and improve the lives of non-violent offenders with chemical dependencies.
Founded in 1997 by 20th Judicial District Criminal Court Judge Seth Norman, the Davidson County Drug Court, also known as DC4, was one of the first residential drug court programs in the country and is currently one of only two such programs in the state. After Judge Norman's retirement last year, Judge Jennifer Smith was appointed by former Governor Bill Haslam to fill his seat. Since then, she has been learning DC4's operations and meeting the many employees and residents who make the unique court run. Judge Smith oversaw her first DC4 docket on July 2. After meeting with staff to receive updates, Judge Smith addresses each resident on that week's docket individually, offering words of encouragement but also pointing out when a resident's behavior needs improvement.
There are currently 76 residents at DC4, but the demand is far greater. Judge Smith said there is a nine-month waiting list to get into the program, which boasts a recidivism rate of just 25 percent and a retention rate of around 65 percent. The program is also a budgetary success, receiving $35 per day from the Tennessee Department of Corrections to cover the costs of a resident in DC4.
"The daily cost of an individual in the prison system is much higher," Judge Smith said. "And DC4 is getting positive results for people instead of warehousing them for a period and then putting them back into the community to face the same problems and issues all over again."