U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy made an appearance in Knoxville, Tennessee on June 21, 2016. The health concerns focused on were the growing opioid epidemic, mental health, wellbeing, and tobacco/e-cigarettes. This visit to Knoxville from a Surgeon General marks the first one since 1992.
The Surgeon General also discussed Zika and tobacco abuse, although majority of the discussion was centered around opiates. The town hall was open to the public and was standing room only. From those suffering from chronic pain to healthcare providers, Knoxville was well represented by those present for the discussion.
Growing concerns surrounding the opiate crisis in our nation has spawned the Surgeon General to make stops across the country to better understand the problem and construct a doable solution to the problem. He stated, "If we can better understand that addiction is a disease of the brain and treat it just as we would any other disease." He also stated that prevention is where healthcare focus should be placed. So much funding is spent to treat diseases we know how to prevent.
The President has proposed funding to expand MAT (medication assisted treatment) facilities, education, and prevention measures. These funds will make it easier to access treatment for addiction. Awareness that there is a problem nationwide and communities coming together to combat the problem are steps in the right direction. Dr. Murthy stated Knoxville has made progress by making Naloxone available to EMS but as a country we still have much room for improvement. He hopes to return in the future and celebrate the accomplishments and developments in addiction services/prevention with Knoxvillians.
Dr. Murthy continues his tour today in Nashville.