Home » 9 Central Ky. physicians take leadership roles in battling opioid abuse

9 Central Ky. physicians take leadership roles in battling opioid abuse

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Sept. 7, 2017) — Nine Central Kentucky physicians took a leadership role during the Kentucky Medical Association Annual Meeting in Louisville.

While the organization adopted new policies and conducted its official business, the other facets of the meeting were not like ordinary meetings of the association. This year’s meeting was designed to foster ways of breaking down barriers to good health care, especially barriers that exist to address the issue of opioid abuse. To help break down those barriers, physicians from around the state were engaged in not only education, but also provided feedback to policymakers from state and local government.

“It was something new for our organization,” said Lexington physician Dale Toney, MD, who was reelected as the organization’s Board Chair. “We had great success in the most recent legislative session through passage of a law that broke down barriers for people who want to quit smoking. We took the lessons we learned from that success and applied them to the opioid issue.”

The KMA did this in a variety of ways. One was to bring in noted author Sam Quinones, whose book, Dreamland, documents the history of opioid abuse over the past 30 years.

“He was very insightful about the history of the opioid problem, and what we might do to fix it,” Toney said. “He said that to overcome addiction, we need to strengthen our communities and become more engaged with one another. It was a message that resonated with physicians.”

KMA adopted Quinones’ message by highlighting and training individual physicians who can make a difference in their communities. One program recently instituted by the KMA was the Kentucky Physician Leadership Institute, known as KPLI.

This new physician leadership program provides a small group of physicians with intensive training on subjects related to personal leadership, business leadership and advocacy leadership.

The first class of 10 physicians included six from the Central Kentucky area. James Borders, MD; Mamata Majmundar, MD; Danesh Mazloomdoost, MD; and John Patterson, MD, all of Lexington completed the KMA’s KPLI program, along with Latonia Sweet, MD of Winchester and Tuyen Tran, MD, of Versailles.

“The KPLI group was trained to make a difference in their communities,” Toney said, “and we put them right to work at our annual meeting by having them lead a discussion on the opioid issue.”

In addition to the KMA’s KPLI program, however, the association has had an active “Community Connector” program for a number of years that highlights physicians who have been leaders in both their local communities and in medicine.

They must also complete a public health or public education service element. Local physician Sandra Shuffett, MD, of Nicholasville was awarded KMA’s Community Connector designation at the meeting.

“The KMA Community Connector Program is the perfect way for physicians to not only be involved, but be encouraged to do even more,” Toney said. “Doctor Shuffett exemplifies that goal through her local work, including as a member of the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees.”

Along with honoring those who look to make a difference, KMA also congratulated those who have already made a difference. Richmond physician John Johnstone, MD, was awarded KMA’s Community Service Award, which is given annually to a physician who has done special work in his or her community.

“John has been a leader in public health for many years,” Toney said. “He was the instigator for KMA’s push to get smoking cessation legislation passed by pointing out the day-to-day barriers that physicians and patients face when trying to obtain smoking cessation counseling and assistance.”

In addition, the Lexington Medical Society Alliance was given the KMA’s Outstanding Layperson Award for their work in advocating on issues important to physicians and patients. “They have done an outstanding job helping to mobilize and educate the Lexington medical community on not only issues important to medicine, but by showing how people can get involved politically to make a difference,” Toney added.