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Banner Health Launches Opioid Reduction Program In Northern Colorado Emergency Rooms

North Colorado Medical Center
Stephanie Daniel
North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley and four other Banner Health hospitals will now treat emergency department patients with non-opioid medication when appropriate.

North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley and four other Banner Health hospitals have formally launched a new way to treat pain in their emergency departments.

When appropriate, medical providers will replace opioid medication with a non-opioid alternative (or ALTO).

"I think that minimizing the patients' initial exposure to opioid medications is a crucial step in every hospitals role to fight the opioid epidemic," said Dr. Angela Mills, chief medical officer at North Colorado Medical Center. "We believe it's important to implement this proven initiative because of the positive impact it can have on the community we serve.

The change is in response to the six-month Colorado Opioid Safety Pilot that ended last year.

Ten emergency departments across the state participated in the study and found that replacing opioids with ALTOs helped cut back on the use of the highly addictive pain medication. The EDs both reduced the administration of opioids by 36 percent and increased the usage of ALTOs by 31 percent.

The ALTO program allows providers to treat pain effectively without exposing patients to the risks associated with opioids, according to Mills. But she said the emergency department will not become opioid-free.

"We still hold treating patients with pain as a high priority and this means that we have other effective pathways that we can use to also treat pain in addition to using opioids," Mills said.

The other Banner Health hospitals that adopted the ALTO program are in Fort Collins, Brush, Loveland and Sterling.

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