Health Check: Opioid crisis stigma

Health Check: Opioid crisis stigma

A top doc on the front lines of the opioid crisis.

Dr. Gary Bubly, the vice-chair of emergency department at The Miriam Hospital, has been named a Top Doc in emergency medicine. He appears in this months’ issue of Rhode Island Monthly along with more than 200 doctors in various specialties.

"It's super rewarding," said Bubly who has worked in emergency departments at both Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam.

"I really feel as though I'm lucky being here in emergency medicine. It's kind of a cliche that medicine is a team sport but emergency medicine, in particular, is even more so,” he added.

"We've been kind of growing here. Especially with the closure of Memorial Hospital so actually Rhode Island Hospital and Miriam are the 2 busiest emergency departments in the state."

Which means, he says, both E-D’s have seen the most overdose cases.

"We're seeing about ten patients a week over at Rhode Island Hospital and two to three a week over here that come in after opiate overdose."

Bubly says it can be a challenge when you see some overdose patients in this busy ER time and again.

"It's not always a very teachable, reachable moment for them but we keep working at it."

And the stigma, although downplayed, still exists. But he says they work hard to change that culture.

"We've been really working on education programs with staff, residents, medical students etc,” said Bubly.

"I think understanding this is a chronic problem and it's the biggest epidemic we're facing and we need to eliminate any stigma and try to get people enrolled in treatment any way possible."

That remains an issue.

"We're on the front end of it so we're seeing people at the most difficult, challenging time for them and it often takes a while."

But, he says, there are successes.

"When we see the success stories, it almost always involves other people, other family members or friends who are really the key people that help, you know, bring these people along because it's a very difficult pathway to recovery."

Lifespan, last year, opened a recovery center where Bubly says they refer those who are ready for treatment. So it's a seamless process.

The Top Docs issue of Rhode Island Monthly is currently available on stands.

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