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Des Moines Physician Receives Iowa Award for Efforts to Prevent Medicine Abuse

Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy - seal

March 11, 2013

(Des Moines, Iowa) — Iowa Drug Policy Coordinator Steve Lukan presented a Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy IDEA award to Dr. Gary Hemann, Co-Medical Director of Emergency Medicine at Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines, on Monday, in recognition of the physician’s Innovation, Determination and Excellence in Action to reduce substance abuse.

“Under Dr. Hemann’s leadership, Mercy Medical Center launched a groundbreaking Iowa program for reviewing emergency department pain medication prescriptions to promote health and prevent abuse,” said Lukan.  “Dr. Hemann also forged a coalition of local and state health care organizations to make the program available to all Iowa hospitals, toward the goal of standardizing the prescribing of pain medications in the unique emergency setting.”

The voluntary program pioneered by Dr. Hemann over the last two years includes clinical guidance for providing emergency department patients with proper pain medication, while reducing the potential for prescription drug abuse or misuse.  It also involves use of Iowa’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, a statewide database that may be checked by prescribers to evaluate a patient’s use of controlled substances.

“Physicians and health organizations should be actively involved in finding solutions to issues like prescription medication abuse,” said Dr. Gary Hemann. “We need to ensure patients have access to the care and medications they need, while reducing the potential for drug misuse. This program follows Mercy’s mission of improving the overall wellness of the communities we serve. We hope all hospitals and health facilities in Iowa will work together to resolve this problem.”

Dr. Hemann and Director Lukan were joined at the award ceremony by Mercy Medical Center Senior Vice President for Planning and Advocacy Joe LeValley and other officials.

“Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing form of substance abuse in Iowa, as illustrated by the 62 prescription pain reliever overdose deaths last year, an all-time high in our state,” said Lukan.  “Reversing these dangerous trends requires innovative health care approaches, as well as preventive action by all of us to talk with our children and secure our medicines.”

Iowans can get more information about medicine abuse at www.TakeADoseOfTruth.com.

The Iowa IDEA award was established by the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy in 2011 to recognize exemplary service and leadership that demonstrably improves the health and safety of Iowans through innovative prevention, treatment, enforcement or other drug control initiatives.  Each year, one organization and one individual are honored for their public service.

Contact: Dale Woolery
(515) 725-0310

Gregg Lagan, Mercy Medical Center
(515) 229-1546 cell


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