NW MO health care expert appointed to statewide panel

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By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

A northwest Missouri health care expert has been appointed to a new statewide task force addressing substance abuse.

Development and Community Engagement Director Rodney Hummer with Northwest Health Services is one of four members appointed by Gov. Mike Parson to the 16-member task force.

We asked Hummer what the state can do to address the crisis.

“That is a really good question,” Hummer tells St. Joseph Post, pausing before answering, “States across the nation are fighting this battle and it’s huge and it’s not going to be just one thing that addresses it. It’s going to be 40 things.”

Hummer serves on the Buchanan County Opioid Task Force and says he plans to rely on that experience during his service on the statewide panel. Hummer says the statewide panel will consider ways to address substance abuse generally.

“You know, it’s not just the opioids. It’s other substances as well. It’s meth and you’ll hear that all the time. It’s all the other drugs,” Hummer says. “I think a few people understand the depths of this and what it costs us as a county and as a state.”

The Task Force on Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment is a 16-member panel comprised of six members of the Missouri House, six of the Missouri Senate, and four appointed by the governor.

Hummer says the group has a tough task. While the Buchanan County task force has found success in treating opioid addiction through treatment, other addictions have proven tough to overcome, according to Hummer.

“So, it’s figuring out those other more difficult areas is going to be a key focus,” Hummer says.

Hummer says his first meeting with the statewide task force will be in January. He says he plans to present what has worked in Buchanan County to its deliberations.

Hummer says the Missouri legislature can help. He says lawmakers need to approve a prescription drug monitoring program. Missouri is the only state without one.