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Leaders share vision for helping communities hard hit by opioids

UNDER A joint effort with the Cook County health system, the Chicago Medical Society and Indian American medical community would work together to combat the inner-city opioid crisis. The epidemic is particularly acute in Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods, physicians behind the initiative said.

The partnership concept comes from Sreenivas Reddy, MD, president of the Indian American Medical Association in Illinois and aCMS member. He recently shared that vision in a meeting with top County officials. Flanked by CMS President Vemuri Murthy, MD, and other Indian American leaders, Dr. Reddy called for a demonstration project on Chicago’s West Side or South Side. The project could focus on health education, clinical intervention or a combination of both. It would solicit a broad range of input from stakeholders. “We want the opinions from experts, elected officials and community activists,” Dr. Reddy said.

The team presented the proposal to County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and John Jay Shannon, MD, the CEO of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System, on June 13.

CMS President Dr. Murthy gave details about the Medical Society’s public health legacy and its work to support partnerships of the sort being proposed with community leaders today. CMS has collaborated with elected leaders, including U.S. Senator Durbin, to address the opioid crisis. Medical Society programs continue to educate physicians on safe prescribing issues as well as comprehensive patient treatment.

Representatives of the local Indian American community gave their strong support to the partnership. Tapas Dasgupta, MD, chairman of the IAMA-IL Board, endorsed the plan. Sriram Sonty, MD, president of the American Association of Multi-Ethnic Physicians, pledged that his organization would work hand-in-hand with others in this time of need. Kishor Mehta, MD, chair of the Multi-Ethnic Advisory Task Force, said the partnership likely would have the support of U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi. The multi-ethnic task force serves the 7th Congressional District—home of the Illinois Medical District—and it advises U.S. Rep. Danny Davis.

Dr. Reddy is also proposing a roundtable meeting of Chicago-area hospital CEOs, and elected officials to facilitate dialogue.

Finally, the group paid tribute to Cook County and Stroger Hospitals for training generations of physicians. Dr. Reddy said Cook County Health and Hospitals System has sustained international medical graduates in Stroger Hospital’s residency programs through J-1 and H-1B visas.

The public hospitals of Cook County have one of the largest medical residency programs in the United States.

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