Innovative Vancouver addiction medicine program receives international accreditation

St. Paul’s Hospital Goldcorp Fellowship in Addiction Medicine will be the first in Western Canada to be accredited by American Board of Addiction Medicine

Vancouver, BC [April 16, 2013] — Vancouver’s only addiction medicine training program has received international accreditation from the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM), a critical step in responding to the problems of untreated alcohol and drug addiction in B.C.

The St. Paul’s Hospital Goldcorp Fellowship in Addiction Medicine becomes the first in western Canada to receive accreditation from ABAM, which sets standards for physician specialty training in addiction medicine.

“An extremely limited number of physicians in B.C. are trained in addiction medicine, making it difficult for persons struggling with addiction to access effective drug and alcohol treatment,” said Dr. Evan Wood, inaugural director of the St. Paul’s Hospital Goldcorp Fellowship in Addiction Medicine and Canada Research Chair in Inner City Medicine at UBC. “Through medical research we have made great strides in the development of effective treatments for addiction. However, until now there have been only very limited ways for interested physicians to learn how to use these tools and help patients with their recovery. ABAM’s accreditation brings international recognition to our program which now has the potential to dramatically improve addiction care in this province.”

ABAM is an independent medical specialty board established in 2007 to certify addiction medicine physicians from several specialties, including: emergency medicine, family medicine, preventive medicine, psychiatry and others. The board sets standards for physician education, assesses physicians’ knowledge, and requires and tracks life-long education.

“Addiction prevention, screening, intervention and treatment need to become routine aspects of medical care wherever health care is provided,” said Dr. Jeffrey Samet, president of ABAM and professor of medicine at Boston University. “Accreditation of addiction medicine training programs and the physicians they train will help bring about a day when addiction medicine physicians will have and can share the knowledge and skills with other health care providers in order to prevent, recognize and treat addiction, so that evidence-based addiction treatment is available to all who need it.”

In September 2012, Goldcorp Inc. announced a commitment of $3-million to St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation for Canada’s only addiction medicine training program west of Ontario. Led by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, the newly established St. Paul’s Hospital Goldcorp Fellowship in Addiction Medicine provides one-year multidisciplinary training designed to promote excellence in clinical skills, scholarship and research with the goal to prepare addiction medicine specialists for a career preventing and treating severe addiction.

The fellowship will address a critical lack of skilled addiction medicine specialists in B.C. by providing training to 20 fellows over five years. Dr. Wood has also developed a strategy for addiction medicine education at UBC that aims to further increase the number of medical students and resident physicians developing skills in addiction medicine.

“Drug use not only negatively impacts those addicted, but also their families, their friends, and the communities they live in,” said Nichola Hall, co-founder of From Grief to Action, a non-profit organization in B.C. that provides education and support for families affected by drug use. “Expanding care and research for people struggling with addiction is urgently needed in British Columbia and will ultimately make both individuals and communities healthier.”

In addition to increasing the number of skilled addiction medicine physicians, the fellowship will help create leadership for structural change in providing innovative care for vulnerable patients who are often in and out of the emergency room as a result of untreated addiction.

“There is so much stigma and discrimination around addiction that many drug users won’t even visit a health clinic for fear of being judged, mistreated or outright dismissed,” said Tracey Morrison, a drug user and board member of the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society. “A doctor who knows about addiction, who understands and is sensitive to the health needs of people who have become addicted, can obviously provide better and more effective treatment. We are excited about the possibilities of having doctors who care enough to participate in a program like this for a whole year—for women and men who are Aboriginal and users of illicit drugs.”

The first group of St. Paul’s Hospital Goldcorp Fellows in Addiction Medicine will begin training on July 1, 2013.

About the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) is Canada’s largest HIV/AIDS research, treatment and education facility and is internationally recognized as an innovative world leader in combating HIV/AIDS and related diseases. BC-CfE is based at St. Paul’s Hospital, Providence Health Care, a teaching hospital of the University of British Columbia. The BC-CfE works in close collaboration with key provincial stakeholders, including health authorities, health care providers, academics from other institutions, and the community to decrease the health burden of HIV and AIDS. By developing, monitoring and disseminating comprehensive research and treatment programs for HIV and related illnesses, the BC-CfE helps improve the health of British Columbians living with HIV.

About St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation
St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation raises funds to support St. Paul’s Hospital, a globally acknowledged centre for innovation, research, teaching and care. St. Paul’s provides care to more than 380,000 patients across B.C. each year, including many services available nowhere else in the province. St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation raised $15.99 million for equipment, research and patient care in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

For more information, visit www.helpstpauls.com.

About Providence Health Care
Providence Health Care is one of Canada's largest faith-based health care organizations, operating 16 facilities within Vancouver Coastal Health. Guided by the principle, “How you want to be treated,” PHC's 1,200 physicians, 6,000 staff and 1,500 volunteers deliver compassionate care to patients and residents in British Columbia. Providence’s programs and services span the complete continuum of care and serve people throughout B.C. PHC operates one of two adult academic health science centres in the province, performs cutting-edge research in more than 30 clinical specialties, and focuses its services on six “populations of emphasis”: cardiopulmonary risks and illnesses, HIV/AIDS, mental health, renal risks and illness, specialized needs in aging and urban health.

For additional information or to request interviews, please contact:

Kevin Hollett
BC-CfE
Phone: 604-682-2344 ext. 66536
Mobile: 778-848-3420
Email: khollett@cfenet.ubc.ca

Brice Dare
Manager, Communications
St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation
604-806-9850
bdare@providencehealth.bc.ca