April 30, 2018

Health law conference to address nation’s opioid epidemic

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A symposium hosted by the SIU School of Law will explore the nation’s opioid epidemic and look at ways to address the crisis. Registration is open until May 11.

The 19th annual SIH/SIU Health Policy Institute program, “Opening Pandora’s Bottle: Law, Policy, and America’s Opioid Epidemic” is May 18 at SIU Carbondale’s Hiram H. Lesar Law Building Auditorium.

Registration fees range from $35 to $75 and include lunch at the conference location. Continuing education credits are available. The registration fee is waived for students and faculty of SIU Law and SIU School of Medicine, and members of select other groups. See the registration page for more details.

Register by May 11

The event runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 18. An interactive simulcast will be available at the Memorial Center for Learning and Innovation adjacent to the SIU School of Medicine in Springfield and the Illinois State Bar Association office in Chicago.

Registration information is available through SIU Carbondale’s Conference and Scheduling Services or by contacting 618/536-7751.

Symposium will look at the scope and impact of the opioid crisis

Michele Mekel, an adjunct law professor and SIH/SIU Health Law and Policy programming director, noted the opioid crisis impacts every segment of a community. In 2016, opioid misuse, including abuse of prescription painkillers and heroin, resulted in 33,000 deaths nationwide and nearly 2,000 deaths in Illinois.

“Opioid addiction is tearing apart lives, families and communities throughout the United States, including in Illinois and here in Southern Illinois,” she said.

Program will also look at ‘competing issues’

The conference’s goal is to educate medical and legal professionals on parameters of the opioid epidemic and provide them with tools to address the crisis as professionals, policy advocates and community members, Mekel said. There can be competing issues, she said.

“In the medical arena, there can be a tension between treating patient pain adequately and risking the potential for addiction,” she said.

The program will also look at challenges of serving patients and clients who already have addiction issues and are subject to social stigma, Mekel said.

Varied group of presenters

The conference brochure on the symposium website highlights the issues each presenter will discuss. The presenters are:

  • Christina Porucznik, associate professor, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine.
  • Valarie K. Blake, associate professor, West Virginia University College of Law.
  • Liz Chiarello, assistant professor of sociology, St. Louis University.
  • Edward C. Covington, former director, Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program, Neurological Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
  • Dennis A. Wichern, former agent, Drug Enforcement Administration, and partner, Prescription Drug Consulting.
  • Monique A. Anawis, medical director and assistant attorney general, Office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
  • Bradley K. Hart, inspector general, Illinois Medicaid System.
  • Michelle White, principal court management consultant, National Center for State Courts.

Pre-event film screening and discussion will look at one community’s battle

Heroine flierA free screening and discussion of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Heroin(e)” is at 7:30 p.m., May 17, in the law school’s auditorium. The film follows three female professionals on the frontline of the battle against the opioid epidemic in West Virginia. Symposium speakers will join in on a guided discussion after the film.

Program design is for a variety of intended audiences

The symposium is for a variety of audiences, including physicians, nurses, healthcare providers and administrators, attorneys, students who are interested in health and health policy, patient advocates, and patients.

For more information, contact Barbara Smith, publications assistant, at smithb3@siu.edu or 618/453-3258.