White House Opioid Task Force looks for answers to crisis in Cleveland

Posted at 5:46 PM, Sep 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-15 07:59:53-04

With the opioid epidemic considered a national emergency, News 5 has learned the answer to this scourge may be here in Cleveland. The president's opioid task force is coming here to look for some answers.

Behind the wall of the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center lies a possible solution to a national crisis. “I think the lessons we have learned can be duplicated in the private sector,” said Medical Director Susan Fuehrer.

Those lessons started a decade ago when the center began addressing the over-prescription of addictive opioids with other alternatives such as yoga and physical therapy.

“Rather than just prescribe opioids to manage pain they have been working on evidence based management and alternative therapy,” Fuehrer said.  

From 2008 to 2015, the center saw a 50% reduction in the prescription of opioids. Even at the height of the epidemic, the center was recognized for its reduction. “There have been lots of ways that we have been identified as a best practice within the VA health care system,” said Fuehrer.

Their practices haven’t gone unnoticed in Washington either. When it came time for the newly formed white house opioid task force to seek a solution, they pinpointed The Louis Stokes Center.

“They will be meeting with multi disciplinary people and they are going to speak to a veteran or two who have recovered from opioid addiction,” said Fuehrer.

Fuehrer says this is an opportunity for their work to have a national impact.

“If one or two things make a difference for one or two people outside the VA community, then we will call tomorrow a success," Fuehrer said.