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Cooperation is positive sign in region's fight against addiction

Johnson City Press • Jun 24, 2018 at 12:00 AM

While campaigning for their merger four years ago, Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance officials assured us they would be “Better Together,” and it seems they have applied that slogan to areas outside the creation of Ballad Health.

Last week, the new health system and East Tennessee State University announced a partnership creating a new fellowship to train future physicians in addiction medicine.

This is a promising example of two of our community’s major institutions pooling their resources to work for a better life for the area’s residents, and we would like to commend them both and encourage even more cooperative ventures from them in the future.

Through this partnership, more fellows will be trained right here in East Tennessee in an emerging medical field, providing them with the keys to unlocking their future careers. Hopefully, some will stay here in the community after graduation to set up practices and conduct research.

The work they will do is sorely needed in the Tri-Cities, where smoking and alcohol abuse rates are above the national average and opioid addiction has spread to epidemic levels.

We look forward to the positive effects these physicians-in-training will have on not only our community, but the others they will eventually choose to serve.

What’s more, this proposed fellowship is not the first example of these two coming together to tackle weighty issues.

Last September, ETSU and Mountain States opened the doors of an opioid addiction treatment center in Gray.

Through the joint effort, ETSU faculty, the health system’s physicians and staff from Frontier Health will treat patients using prescriptions, counseling and other community-based resources. The university’s staff will conduct research to determine the best methods for addiction treatment.

In April, ETSU’s Center for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment was recognized nationally by the U.S. Public Health Service and Interprofessional Education Collaborative for its “innovative approach to community and public health practice.”

Part of those practices include the Overmountain Recovery clinic in Gray.

We’d like to echo those kudos and extend them to Ballad, two organizations who really do seem to be making the community better together.

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