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Fight opioid crisis with education, says Illinois State Medical Society president

Fight opioid crisis with education, says Illinois State Medical Society president

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DECATUR — The nation's growing opioid crisis was one of the topics discussed during the Macon County Medical Society's quarterly business meeting Tuesday evening. 

Hosted at the Beach House restaurant, the event featured a keynote address by Dr. Nestor Ramirez, president of the Illinois State Medical Society. Ramirez has visited multiple other county medical societies throughout the year in an effort to keep members informed of the state society's recent actions. 

"These chats are an update, but they're mostly a reminder that we have a tremendous advocacy network that helps the physicians when they have any kind of problems with Medicare, Medicaid and and the insurance companies," he said. "We are the best help for them, and they can just call and ask."

Regarding the opioid epidemic, Ramirez said the current course of action for the state medical society will be to educate the public about the dangers of the drugs, and to provide physicians with the necessary materials to do so. 

Overdoses caused by both prescription and illegal opioids in the United States have quadrupled since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Midwestern and rural areas are continually hit the hardest by the crisis. 

While budgetary restrictions have prevented the state medical society from taking greater action against the epidemic, Ramirez said it frequently consults organizations that have the funds to do so, such as the Illinois Department of Public Health. 

"We definitely are concerned about the issue," Ramirez said. "We have our physicians dealing daily with it, and our clinics dealing with patients, trying to change somebody's life. Education is a part of the deal."

Ramirez also touched upon his desire to recruit more members to join both the Macon County Medical Society and the Illinois State Medical Society.

Declining membership rates within the state have forced some medical societies to cease operation, he said. As he nears the end of his term as the state medical society's president, Ramirez said he wants to encourage the county societies to work toward preventing more of those closures.

"I'm trying to recruit more people to be members because we want them, and we need them," he said. 

jcook@herald-review.com | (217) 421-7980

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