U.S. Surgeon General visits North Dakota pharmacists

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams visited North Dakota in October as a keynote speaker during Governor Doug Burgum’s Main Street Initiative event. In addition, the U.S. Surgeon General asked for a private meeting with pharmacists from North Dakota during his visit here October 30.

The North Dakota Pharmacists Association coordinated the meeting, which included a group of member pharmacists representing urban, rural, telepharmacy, hospital, long term care, retail and the Indian Health Service.

Discussion broached by the U.S. Surgeon General included patient access to care, healthy communities especially in rural North Dakota, innovative care models, benefits of pharmacists in control of their profession in the state and opioid abuse and prevention efforts.

Mylynn Tufte, State Health Officer for the North Dakota Department of Health, and Michelle Kommer, Commissioner for the North Dakota Department of Commerce, also presented information during the meeting.

“It is rare that the U.S. Surgeon General makes it to North Dakota and to have him ask for a private meeting with pharmacists is something the profession should be proud of in North Dakota,” said Michael Schwab, executive vice president, North Dakota Pharmacists Association.

Dr. Jerome Adams is the 20th Surgeon General of the United States. His motto as Surgeon General is “better health through better partnerships.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, Dr. Adams holds the rank of Vice Admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, overseeing approximately 6,500 uniformed health officers in nearly 800 locations around the world. The focus of Dr. Adams during his tenure includes the opioid epidemic, oral health, and links between community health, economic prosperity and national security.

Meeting participants shared pharmacy innovations happening in North Dakota in various settings, including the role pharmacists play in their communities through the ONERx program. Pharmacists and pharmacies enrolled in the statewide collaborative program receive education and tools to help them educate patients on safe use of opioids when prescribed by a physician.

ONE Rx participants have now conducted more than 3,000 patient screenings. ONE Rx has proven to be a feasible intervention that gets at the heart of primary prevention of opioid use disorder and optimizes the skills and position of the community pharmacist.


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