Baptist and IAC Associates Revolutionizing Addiction Treatment

Oct 28 • 2019

Baptist Partners With Addiction Specialists

Last year was the deadliest year for overdose deaths in Tennessee. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 1,837 people died of drug overdoses in Tennessee in 2018. At Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis, emergency room doctors treat patients who overdose or visit with concerns about substance use disorder (SUD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD).

A new partnership between Baptist Memorial Health Care and Bartlett-based addiction medicine practice Integrated Addiction Care Associates makes it easier for ER doctors at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis to give patients with addiction a clearer path to treatment and recovery. The collaboration, called the Center of Excellence in Addiction Medicine, uses teleconsultation and telemedicine with IAC Associates experts to deliver leading-edge addiction care.

Treating Addiction as a Chronic Disease

“If you consider any region in the United States, at least 7% of the population has SUD or AUD,” said Dr. David Stern, CEO of Integrated Addiction Care Associates. Stern created the Center of Excellence in Addiction Medicine with Dr. Paul DePriest, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Baptist Memorial Health Care.

Most medical associations, including the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine, define addiction as a complex and chronic disease of the brain and body.

“You wouldn’t think twice about relying on a team of health care professionals to provide care for a patient with colon cancer or diabetes,” said Stern. “Similarly, we need a constellation of specialists for the patient with an addiction problem — and usually that does not occur. The purpose of the Center of Excellence is to bring state-of-the art care to patients in the Mid-South.”

Baptist and IAC Associates hope to reduce ER visits related to overdoses and addiction complications and help patients transition into recovery. The integration is ongoing at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis, Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women and Baptist Medical Group.

A Personal Connection

Stern lost his son Alan to an overdose in 2008 at 23 years old. Alan was a law student in Boston and suffered from a combination of mental health disorders and addiction. Stern and his wife, Kathleen, struggled to find the right health care providers for their son.

“We were in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the time where I was dean of the School of Medicine and vice president of health affairs,” said Stern. “The physicians in the university’s practice plan also reported to me. Still, I could not arrange the kind of care that Alan needed.”

After their son’s death, Kathleen Stern, an accomplished ophthalmologist, eye surgeon and medical school teacher, turned to painting and art. Her work includes landscapes, waterscapes and portraits of her late son. David Stern started IAC Associates with Drs. Shawn Hamm and Drew Blackstock to help other families overcome addiction.

“That is why we formed our own company,” said Stern. “I hope we will spare other families the tremendous grief of losing a precious child.”

The IAC Associates team is led by the Mid-South’s only fellowship-trained and board-certified addiction medicine physicians and includes a therapist and social worker. The multidisciplinary team works together to develop an integrated plan of care for each patient that includes medical, behavioral, emotional and social determinants of health in one location. IAC Associates also offers telemedicine as patients progress through the program.

Using Telemedicine in the ER to Diagnose Addiction

Baptist ER doctors use telemedicine to consult with IAC addiction medicine specialists.

Dr. Marilyn McLeod, emergency medicine specialist at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis, uses the telemedicine system to virtually bring addiction specialists into the emergency room.

“With telemedicine, patients and doctors speak to addiction specialists using a two-way screen,” said McLeod. “Two IAC Associates doctors rotate shifts to be on call whenever we need them. After the telemedicine assessment, doctors and addiction specialists make a treatment plan and schedule a next-day appointment.”

Immediate follow-up care is one of the most important parts of the addiction treatment plan. According to Stern, every patient that has been processed using telemedicine has shown up for his or her next-day appointment.

Patients may also visit the IAC Associates outpatient facility located at 6630 Summer Knowles Circle, Suite 101, Bartlett, Tenn. The office accepts walk-in appointments from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. every day and same-day appointments are also available. IAC Associates accepts TennCare and all major health insurance providers.

Erasing the Stigma

The Center of Excellence also includes the only fellowship program of its kind in the region, which will educate future addiction medicine physicians. Staff will study best practices for addiction treatment and offer physician education seminars to help all doctors identify patients who may have SUD or AUD.

“Addiction isn’t a moral shortcoming,” said Stern. “It’s a treatable brain disorder. We believe the integration with Baptist is a missing link that can close the gap in addiction care and erase the stigma for families in the community.”

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