A Sacramento health center is ensuring that patients who receive powerful prescription medications are able to safely secure them, reducing the chances of opioid abuse and addiction in California’s Capital region.
As part of it’s comprehensive “blanket of care” approach, WellSpace Health is leading the pack in the prevention of chronic disease, including opioid misuse and the development of opioid use disorder.
WellSpace Health is a statewide leader in designing and delivering integrated care that treats the whole person - body and mind - with a people-first approach based on competence and compassion. Seventeen WellSpace health centers in the Sacramento Region now provide services to over 70,000 patients, offering a full range of quality medical care, dental care for children and adolescents, and mental health and behavioral health services. WellSpace has provided care and support to underserved individuals and families throughout the Sacramento region since 1953.
Dr. Janine Bera, Chief Medical Officer for WellSpace, manages clinical operations including analyzing policies and their impact on healthcare delivery, working with the community to develop new programs, and recruiting employees. She has a strong focus on preventing chronic disease before they take hold.
As Dr. Bera explains, “Once you get a chronic disease, it doesn’t go away. For example, we want patients to test their blood glucose so they can make changes in their diet and reduce the risks of diabetes. And we want people to secure their opioids in abuse-deterrent packaging so their medications aren’t being pilfered and used inappropriately.”
How big a problem is opioid misuse or abuse in Sacramento?
The California Department of Public Health reports that, in 2016, there were 1,188,824 prescriptions for opioid medications written in Sacramento County.
Even though the sheer number of prescriptions for opioids has been on a downward slope nationally since 2009, the risk of accidental access or intentional misuse remains a significant risk to public health.
That’s why every patient who receives an opioid prescription at the WellSpace Health San Juan Community Health Center in Citrus Heights also receives a Safer Lock to help keep these powerful – and potentially addictive - medications in the right hands. The Safer Locks are provided via grant funding from Sacramento County.
Safer Lock is a patented 4-digit combination locking cap that is sold with the Safer Lock bottle or may retrofit many existing pharmaceutical vials used in pharmacies today. Patients create and set their personal combination from 10,000 possibilities, which can only be changed when it’s on its current, correct combination. Safer Lock will only open when it’s on the correct combination, which helps keep non-patients from pilfering medication without detection. Safer Lock of Gatekeeper Innovation, Inc. is headquartered in Sacramento, California.
Restricting medication access to patients only is one of several steps WellSpace has taken to reduce the misuse of powerful opioid medications.
As Dr. Bera explains, “WellSpace has put in place opioid policies and procedures to change the prescribing behaviors of our health care providers and to educate patients about treating their level of pain. The goal is to manage pain safely and sanely from all perspectives. In some cases, patients might be accustomed to taking massive doses, and our job is to taper them down.”
Overall, WellSpace strives to help patients understand that pain from an injury will diminish over time, which helps them appropriately manage their pain while they heal.
And while patients heal, their medications will be secure in abuse-deterrent packaging that helps keep powerful opioids in the right hands. The safe management of health and wellness takes a village and leadership of innovative early adopters who embrace the power of prevention.
WellSpace is leading the way in the Sacramento Region and setting an example to inspire others.