Northern Light Health establishes new charter to address opioid response

Date: 11/07/2019

When she began her term as Governor, Janet Mills made tackling the opioid epidemic a top priority of her administration. She created a Director of Opioid Response and signed an executive order outlining the steps necessary to address Maine’s opioid epidemic. That order includes funding to purchase anti-overdose medication, rapid access to recovery treatment in hospital emergency rooms, and training resources for recovery coaches.  It also requires partnerships with community groups and healthcare organizations such as Northern Light Health.

After reviewing that executive order, Northern Light Health leadership decided to form an Opioid Addiction Resource Committee and include experts from across the system in substance use disorder treatment, emergency medicine, community health, government relations, planning, and strategy.  Lisa Harvey McPherson, VP, Government Relations facilitates the monthly meetings.

“We didn’t have the structure to frame up how our NLH Member organizations aligned with the directives in the executive order,” explains Lisa, “Forming the Opioid Resources Committee is a way to inventory all of our offerings, see how they align with the governor’s executive order and work to fill in the gaps if and where they exist.”

The committee has held monthly meetings since late summer and drafted a charter that was approved in September by the Northern Light Health leadership council.  The Charter’s stated purpose is: To support Northern Light Health member organizations to implement overdose and death prevention, treatment and recovery efforts, and prevention efforts outlined in Governor Mills Opioid Epidemic Executive Order.
“There is excellent work going on at all our member organizations at various levels, and our role on the committee is to create a strategic alignment of all that work and to make sure we are achieving the goals outlined by the governor as we care for patients and families impacted by the opioid crisis,” explains Lisa.

The charter committee has held one meeting already with Gordon Smith, the state Director of Opioid Response, and is planning to communicate with him once more before the end of the year to provide an update on the work that Northern Light Health has accomplished.