Lancaster Physician Winter 2018 - 24

L A N C A S T E R M E D I C A L S O C I E T Y.O R G

Perspectives

properly treated and managed, complications
are expensive and dangerous and reduce the
sufferer's quality of life.
While the number of people in our communities who are facing addiction does not
compare to our rates of obesity, for example,
addiction is a far-reaching and devastating
problem. The health, family structure, and
finances of a person with addiction are impacted negatively, and it reverberates throughout
communities. Because addiction has a widely
impactful ripple effect, I consider it to be a
significant health care challenge.
Carrie Willets replied:
Local health systems regularly conduct
Community Health Needs Assessments for
the communities they serve. These assessments
help us to identify specific community health
needs and develop strategies to address them.
Based on WellSpan's current needs assessment
in Lancaster County, there's no question that
chronic disease, behavioral health issues, and
opioid addiction are among the most pressing
issues impacting the health and well-being of
our communities.

On the policy side, the ongoing debate about
health-care reform in the country is a concern.
Hospitals and medical societies have been
united in their opposition to dismantling the
Affordable Care Act. The law was not perfect
and would benefit from improvements, but
the attempts in Washington to end it without
any meaningful replacement has created a sense
of uncertainty among providers that makes it
difficult for us to plan for the future.
The political uncertainty is one of the factors
driving another major challenge to the industry,
the latest wave of consolidation that is creating
larger networks and blurring traditional lines
between providers and insurers. How all this
plays out remains to be seen.
What is your health care
system doing to help
overcome those challenges?
Philip Guarneschelli replied:
UPMC Pinnacle has protocols in place to
reduce patients' likelihood of becoming addicted
to prescription painkillers like OxyContin,
Vicodin, Percocet, and codeine.

Jan Bergen replied:
The biggest challenges reflect on the fact
that health care is a multi-faceted issue that
touches on individuals' health, politics and
policy, and economics.

UPMC Pinnacle Lititz's BMI of Lancaster
practice offers both comprehensive surgical
and medical weight loss programs, complete
with ongoing nutritional guidance, exercise
programs, and support groups.

Regarding the health of individuals and
communities, Lancaster County faces challenges
around unhealthy behaviors that lead to chronic
illness and disease. Too many Lancaster residents
struggle with obesity and its accompanying
impacts, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Both UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster and Lititz
offer a comprehensive employer wellness program called CARES. Participating employers
can use the CARES program to help improve
the health of their employees and to help keep
their overall insurance claim costs down.

Tobacco use, though greatly diminished,
still ensnares too many people and we are also
coping-as are other communities-with an
explosion of opioid abuse and addiction.

Primary care practices associated with our
hospitals actively encourage patients to schedule
annual preventive care and wellness screenings,
many of which are covered at no cost to patients
through their insurance carrier.

We also face challenges in the area of mental
health. Over 18 percent of adults in the United
States will experience mental health issues in
any given year, and Lancaster County is no
exception. The county is seeing a growing
demand for both inpatient and outpatient
mental health services.

We also offer our employees incentives such
as reduced insurance premiums or additional
employer contributions to their health savings
account for participating in our Wellness Works
program, which encourages preventive care,
weight management, and healthy lifestyles.

LANCASTER

24

PHYSICIAN

Carrie Willets replied:
Obesity is a common root cause of prevalent
chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart
disease. In addition to a focus on wellness
in our primary and specialty care practices,
WellSpan offers a variety of community wellness
programs, such as diabetes education, walking
clubs, healthy cooking, and others that help
promote wellness and fitness.
Examples of these programs include Get
Outdoors (GO!), an annual summer exercise
and reading program that we sponsor with the
Ephrata Public Library. The 10-Pound Throwdown encourages Lancaster County residents
to form teams and lose weight, and last year
across our entire health care system resulted
in more than 6,000 people losing more than
14,000 pounds.
Mental illness is now the most prominent
reason that individuals in the United States seek
care through emergency departments. Often,
however, patients must wait hours or days for
access to appropriate behavioral health care to
treat their mental illness.
Our communities are fortunate to have
WellSpan Philhaven serving behavioral health
needs across central Pennsylvania. WellSpan
Philhaven provides comprehensive behavioral
health treatment and services in inpatient and
outpatient settings, including a newly expanded
17-bed inpatient unit within WellSpan Ephrata
Community Hospital. This facility serves
patients who need short-term care, as well as
longer stays for more acute behavioral health
problems. WellSpan Philhaven's clinicians
also work in our emergency department to
help diagnose and find treatment for patients
needing behavioral care.
WellSpan also is committed to working
to address the growing problem of opioid
addiction. A mother in the community told
me, "There is a growing membership to a club,
a club that you do not want to be a part of."
She was referring, of course, to the club of
parents who have lost their children to this
terrible epidemic. There is no more timely
or relevant work than for us to join with our
communities to fight this horrible disease.



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