Magazine article The Alcoholism Report

HHS Secretary Sullivan to Sponsor Major Conference on Linkages of Primary Care, HIV, Alcohol and Drug Treatment

Magazine article The Alcoholism Report

HHS Secretary Sullivan to Sponsor Major Conference on Linkages of Primary Care, HIV, Alcohol and Drug Treatment

Article excerpt

"Strengthening the Linkages" is the theme of a national conference in Washington, DC, Feb. 26-28 -- which will be the culmination of an 18-month initiative involving a broad range of field groups and government agencies to develop better means of collaboration among primary care, HIV, alcohol, drug abuse and mental health providers. Chaired by HHS Secretary Louis Sullivan, the conference is expected to draw more than 1,200 attendees with President Bush, key Senators and House members, Surgeon General Antonia Novello and a roster of celebrities -- including Peter Jennings and Oprah Winfrey -- among some 270 invited speakers.

The "Linkage Initiative," a responde to a recommendation in the National Drug Control Strategy, has been directed by the Office for Treatment Improvement (OTI) of the Alcohol, Drug Abse and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA) and is designed to devise ways of insuring that patients don't slip between the cracks between primary health care, AIDS, mental health and alcohol and drug treatment systems.

The conference will focus on strategies to implement the recommendations identified by "grass roots" work groups from the primary care, HIV and substance abuse fields during the course of the linkage initiative over the past year and a half. The recommendations highlighted the need to strengthen linkages among primary care and ADM professionals and to create "action plans" to effect needed changes in the health care system. The conference is also designed to educate participants about up-to-date practices and model programs in linking and integrating the treatment of HIV, alcohol and other drug abuse in the primary health care setting, as well as the appropriate referral of substance abusers to primary care treatment providers.

A National Steering Committee, headed by Burton J. Lee, III, MD, personal physician to President Bush, was convened as the oversight committee to a series of regional workshops and special issue meetings at which about 1,000 health professionals participated. They included representatives from various disciplines, state agencies, field groups, the insurance industry, private organizations, and primary care and substance abuse treatment centers.

The workshops and meetings came up with recommendations addressing the problems of primary care and substance abuse reimbursement, minority family health care, and rural, remote and culturally distinct populations. The recommendations will form the core of the areas to be discussed at the Secretarial Conference.

The conference will have plenary sessions addressed by national experts in primary care and substance abuse treatment issues. …

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