At its February meeting, Boone Memorial Hospital Board of Directors pledged two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars to combat the addiction epidemic in rural West Virginia.
“Part of our mission is to promote wellness and health to benefit the community at-large,” said Board President Bob Brown. “We feel it’s important and necessary for Boone Memorial Hospital to uphold its mission by becoming a key player in the fight against addiction.”
Success of the hospital’s current 340B Drug Discount Program, implemented in 2012, allowed the facility to make the two-hundred and fifty thousand dollar pledge. The 340B Drug Discount Program is a US federal government program that requires drug manufacturers to provide outpatient drugs to eligible health care organizations and covered entities at significantly reduced prices. Boone Memorial Hospital meets the definition of a “covered entity” by being a non-profit critical access facility. According to congressional report language, the purpose of the 340B program is to enable covered entities, such as Boone Memorial Hospital, to stretch scarce federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.
“We opened our outpatient retail Pharmacy this past year,” explained hospital CEO, Virgil Underwood. “It is housed on campus in our new rural health clinic, the Family Medical Center. Profits made via the 340B Drug Program within our Pharmacy have enabled us to expand existing hospital services, hire several new providers and add new programs. Furthermore, 340B financial resources have allowed us to offer outpatient prescriptions at very affordable rates to individuals without insurance.”
The 340B program covers any patient seen by a Boone Memorial Hospital provider in either of their two rural health clinics or emergency department.
“We welcome everyone in the community to use our services, even individuals who don’t see one of our BMH providers,” said Joey Wright, PHARM, D., MBA.
“It has been an extremely positive program for our hospital and community,” said Underwood. “The resources supported the start-up of our new Black Lung Center, opened in 2018. The Black Lung Center helps miners of all ages, retired or active, complete and file federal black lung claims and provides on-site testing for qualified applicants. Most recently, Boone County native, Cardiologist Casey Hager, joined our medical staff and is offering Cardiology services. With the ongoing success of 340B, it is our hope to continue to add more services and programs, such as the addiction and recovery program.”
“The hospital has been able to share the 340B resources and benefits with various local pharmacies and we challenge those partnering pharmacies to join in our fight against addiction,” said Underwood.
“Together, along with various community partners, health agencies and concerned citizens, we can become a driving force in battling the current addiction epidemic. In addition, Marshall University, Marshall Health and Cabell Huntington Hospital will provide insight and direction in our future initiatives related to the opioid epidemic.
The hospital-led addiction and recovery program will be housed off-site and consist of several components including; Group and Individual counseling with a licensed therapist, Peer Recovery (with a certified Peer Recovery Coach), Social Services and Spiritual Care, to name a few. The overarching goal is to support individuals with substance use disorders and, in turn, change their life.
“It is our hope to host a community-wide summit in Boone County within the next few months to kick-off our addiction and recovery program. We will include county officials, current drug assistance and treatment programs and organizations, student leaders, health agencies, addiction champions and anyone interested in combatting addiction. We realize there are already various successful addiction programs offered locally. We don’t want to compete with these programs or reinvent the wheel but rather serve as a catalyst to pull groups and resources together to tackle this community-wide problem. Pledging two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars to this initiative solidifies the commitment of our Board of Directors. We are excited to get started,” concluded Underwood.