IU officials, Indiana FSSA secretary to address opioid management at inaugural event in D.C.

Jennifer Walthall and Faith Hawkins will participate in Opioid Management Summit

Jennifer WalthallView print quality image
Jennifer Walthall. Indiana Family and Social Services Administration

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. --  Jennifer Walthall, Indiana University School of Medicine professor and secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, will offer keynote remarks during the inaugural Opioid Management Summit on Feb. 27 in Washington, D.C. Faith Kirkham Hawkins, IU associate vice president for research development and strategic initiatives, will join a panel discussion about improving treatment programs for rural and vulnerable populations.

"The complexity of the opioid crisis demands unprecedented levels of collaboration among lawmakers, agency leadership, and our partners in health systems and higher education," Walthall said. "Through true partnerships, we can embrace the integration of science, data and compassion to deliver evidence-based treatments that directly confront this epidemic and build a compassionate and effective response that puts our citizens and patients first."

Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb, who appointed Walthall secretary of the Family and Social Services Administration, joined IU officials in October to announce Indiana University's Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge initiative.

Walthall, who works clinically in the emergency department of Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, previously served as the deputy state health commissioner and director for health outcomes at the Indiana State Department of Health. She also served as division chief for pediatric emergency medicine and program director for the emergency medicine and pediatrics residency.

"We are uniquely positioned to contribute to the fight against the opioid epidemic," said Hawkins, who serves as an administrative lead for the $50 million initiative. "Our clinical and research capabilities -- in addition to our statewide footprint -- make us well-equipped to lead research and ensure that our policymakers have the resources and information they need to make data-driven decisions to address this substance use disorder."

The Responding to the Addictions Crisis initiative aims to implement a comprehensive plan to reduce deaths from addiction, ease the burden of drug addiction in local communities, and improve overall health and economic outcomes. Announced in partnership with the state of Indiana, IU Health and Eskenazi Health, the initiative is among the nation's largest and most comprehensive state-based responses to the opioid addiction crisis -- and the largest led by a university.

The inaugural Opioid Management Summit convenes hospital and health systems executives with political leaders and community partners to discuss systemwide initiatives aimed at managing and addressing the use of opioids among patients. Panelists and summit participants will explore initiatives employed at three critical stages of care in relation to opioids -- prevention, responsible utilization and treatment -- to develop a comprehensive standard of care across health care organizations.

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