As is the case in many other areas of the country, the opioid epidemic is a clear and present public health crisis for citizens of Wisconsin, particularly those residing in the Stateline area. Wisconsin’s age-adjusted per capita rate of opioid-related deaths consistently exceeds the national average.The Hendricks Family Foundation is committed to supporting non-profit organizations working to strengthen Beloit, including those that develop strategies to improve the health and safety of our community. The Foundation awarded a $235,382 grant to fund a 3-year pilot project by the Surgical Collaborative of Wisconsin to work with Stateline surgeons to reduce opioid prescribing by 60% in Rock County. Grounded in evidence-based strategies, this project has a goal to reverse the upward trend in opioid deaths currently experienced by the community.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, there are a variety of strategies that can effectively reduce exposure to opioids, preventing opioid use disorder and deaths. Included within these strategies are those that fall specifically within the health care system, such as Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, educating providers about prescribing guidelines and how to facilitate conversations with patients about the risks and benefits around pain treatment options, and quality improvement programs to increase implementation of recommended prescribing practices.¹Since one of the most common pathways to opioid addiction starts with access to legally prescribed opioid pain medications, it makes intuitive sense that health care-based strategies like those described above have some of the greatest disruptive potential to positively impact opioid-related hospitalizations and deaths, which have climbed exponentially in Rock County since 2004. Opioid-related hospitalization rates for the county have increased from a low of 213.7/100,000 people in 2004 to 513.5/100,000 in 2018 (rates in 2016 and 2017 were slightly higher). Correspondingly, opioid deaths have shown a similar pattern of increasing from a rate of 5.70/100,000 in 2005 to 24.5/100,000 in 2019.²
In response to state-level data indicating three-quarters of surgical patients in Rock County filled at least one opioid prescription post-operatively and, on average, Rock County patients were receiving prescriptions in an amount greater than national guidelines, the Surgical Collaborative of Wisconsin project utilizes health care system strategies that focus on intervention and education work with surgeons and other key stakeholders from the Beloit Health System, SSM Health, Mercy Health System and the Edgerton Hospital. Targeted use of data and development and implementation of education platforms to re-shape post-operative opioid prescribing practices will be used to reduce prescribing and reverse the upward trend in the opioid death rate in the community.
¹ Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention & Control. (2017). Prevent Opioid Use Disorder. Retrieved from: Prevent Opioid Use Disorder | Drug Overdose | CDC Injury Center
² Rock County Wisconsin Public Health. (2021). Opioids in Rock County. Retrieved from: Rock County Wisconsin – Opioids in Rock County