West Virginia Medical Professionals Health Program: “up and Running” (News: Wvmphp)
On January 14, 2008 the West Virginia Medical Professionals Health Program (WVMPHP) signed an agreement with the West Virginia Board of Medicine to allow for the enrollment of physicians, podiatrists and physician assistants with substance abuse or major mental illness. Participation is on a voluntary basis without such practitioners being subject to disciplinary action the Board provided the practitioner complies with the goals and restrictions of the program and have no formal complaints filed against them with their licensing board. The Board may also refer practitioners to the WVMPHP which may have been or are going to be subject to disciplinary action. This significant event exemplifies both parties recognition of the public interest, health, safety and welfare which is best served by the existence of such program. It also reflects the mutually symbiotic relationship necessary for the early identification and assistance of practitioners who are in need of good healthcare and recovery services. The primary function of the WVMPHP is to monitor compliance as dictated by treatment professionals and/or Boards of licensure. Components of this long term monitoring include a referral for evaluation and/or treatment, frequent and random urine screens, support group meetings, regular doctor visits, work-site monitoring, advocacy to appropriate parties, and documentation of compliance with program requirements. A similar agreement is being discussed with the West Virginia Board of Osteopathy. This signing of the agreement brings to light a multi-year endeavor by organized medicine to provide assistance to the “sick healthcare provider” and thereby better protecting the public. In addition to the direct services to practitioners in need, the WVMPHP is committed to educating the healthcare community throughout the state. This will include not only education related to the function and availability of the WVMPHP, but also the disease of addiction and other issues of physician well-being. Currently, we are planning presentations before county medical societies, schools of medicine and hospital medical staff meetings.