Birmingham City Mayor Randall Woodfin spoke to a full house about the opioid crisis on Monday. The occasion? The grand opening of Pathway Healthcare’s new clinic and corporate headquarters, moving from Dallas to St. Vincent’s East. Bham Now sat down with Scott Olson, CEO of Pathway Healthcare, to find out what it means for Birmingham and Trussville.
21 million Americans suffer from some form of alcohol or substance use disorder. In 2016, 42,200 Americans died from opioid-related drug overdoses.
1. Patients in the greater Birmingham area can now go from the ER to a long-term addiction treatment program within one hospital. (That’s rare!)
“You could talk to 100 hospital administrators around the country and you may get five that are interested in focusing on addiction,” Olson said. “The reality of it is, hospitals have a lot of stuff going on. As big as this problem (addiction) is, they just aren’t allocating the resources to it.”
In 2015, Alabama had 736 reported drug overdose deaths and had the highest number of opioid pain reliever prescriptions per person in the nation.
Pathway Healthcare found such a hospital administrator in Birmingham: Andrew Gnann, president and chief operating officer of St. Vincent’s Health System, which is owned by Ascension.
“There’s probably only a handful of hospitals in the United States that have an effective program to treat patients in the ER and then get them into a long-term treatment program like ours. There are a couple in the Northeast. Mass General’s been a big mover in this space,” Olson said.
“We found a great location in St. Vincent’s East and a great partner in Andrew Gnann to build a system we can replicate. Another reason (for the move) is that Alabama’s a big state for us. This is our fourth office in the state. We knew that we would eventually want to be in Birmingham, we just needed to find the right opportunity.”—Scott Olson, CEO, Pathway Healthcare
2. Pathway Healthcare medical and corporate leadership have deep ties to Birmingham and Alabama.
- As chief medical officer of Pathway Healthcare’s behaviorial division, Stephen Taylor, MD, MPH, has called Birmingham home for more than 20 years. He’s a world-class, quadruple-board-certified psychiatrist, who also serves as Medical Director of the Player Assistance/Anti-Drug Program of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA).
“A big driver for our corporate office relocation is that our medical leadership is here.”—Scott Olson
- Pathway Healthcare founder and chief medical officer Brent Boyett, DMD, DO, FASAM, practiced dentistry and primary care medicine before turning his focus to addiction medicine in 2008. He is the current president of the Alabama Society of Addiction Medicine (ALSAM) and, in 2017, was appointed to serve on the Alabama Governor’s Task Force on Opioid Addiction and Abuse.
- CEO of Pathway Healthcare, Scott Olson, is an alumnus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). While earning his degree in accounting at UAB, he took a business-law class taught by Edward Friend III, a UAB adjunct professor and former president of the law firm Sirote & Permutt. Friend became a mentor to Olson, which ultimately led him to attend law school at Vanderbilt University.
3. The headquarters move from Dallas to Birmingham means all Pathway Healthcare corporate and new-hire training will take place at the facility in St. Vincent’s East.
“Pathway operates in Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, and we’re opening in Florida,” said Jade Prior, corporate administration manager at Pathway Healthcare.
“As we open more offices, this is where they all come. Any new new hires in an existing clinic, this is where they come for a three- to five-day training session.”—Jade Prior
4. The clinic has the capacity to treat more than 1,000 patients.
Board-certified addiction specialists can serve 275 patients.
“We’ve always built our offices to accommodate four full-time physicians, so that you can get a little over 1,000 patients. Most of our clinics operate in the 400 to 600 patient range. We think this one will be much bigger because of our relationship with the hospital,” Olson said.
The facility includes:
- A medical clinic and a behavioral clinic (Though connected within the suite, each has its own waiting room and entrance/exit.)
- A lab
- Medical exam rooms
- A nurses’ station
- A conference and training room
- Individual counseling rooms
- A family and group counseling room
Mayor Woodfin attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the grand opening of Pathway Healthcare at St. Vincent’s East, and he addressed the opioid crisis during his remarks. Earlier this month, the mayor also spoke out about mental illness and depression, and encouraged those in crisis to seek help at the free Crisis Center in Birmingham.