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ADHS Releases Opioid Response Recommendations

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 7, 2017

For Immediate Release | September 6, 2017

Media Contact | Nicole Capone

Mobile | 480.980.2940


Arizona Department of Health Services Releases Opioid Response Recommendations

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Health Services (“ADHS”) today released its official “Opioid Overdose Epidemic Response Report” in accordance with the public-health emergency declaration recently issued by Governor Doug Ducey.

In June 2017, Governor Ducey issued a statewide emergency declaration after newly released data from ADHS showed 790 Arizonans died from opioid overdoses in 2016, an average of more than two people per day. The emergency declaration required ADHS to:

  • Administer an enhanced surveillance advisory, providing enhanced reporting of overdose deaths from doctors and hospitals.
  • Develop and provide training to local law enforcement on protocols for administering naloxone, an opioid antagonist medication that can counteract an opioid overdose.
  • Coordinate public health efforts between state, local and private-sector partners to identify ways to prevent drug overdose deaths.

The data collected through the enhanced surveillance advisory underscored the urgency to take action, with over 2,100 possible opioid overdoses reported since June of 2017, 13% of which were fatal. The data also illustrates the success of the state’s efforts to increase access to naloxone, with roughly 85% of possible opioid overdoses (excluding deaths) given the overdose-reversing treatment prior to hospital admittance.

The report includes twelve comprehensive recommendations, including a series of legislative proposals aimed to reduce illicit acquisition and diversion of opioids, promote safe prescribing and dispensing, and improve access to treatment. Key legislative proposals include:

  • Imposing a 5 day limit on all first fills for opioid naive patients to decrease the risk of dependence and opioid use disorder.
  • Require e-prescribing for some controlled substance medications to mitigate fraudulent prescriptions.
  • Require pharmacists to check if a patient has been prescribed both an opioid and a benzodiazepine – a combination proven to significantly increase the risk of an overdose.

“Addressing the opioid epidemic requires an all-hands-on-deck approach,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. “Arizona’s health care professionals, state agencies, and law enforcement leaders have long played a vital role in improving public health in our state. I’m proud of the life-saving solutions we’ve already implemented to prevent and treat opioid use disorder, and these recommendations will only help Arizona take our efforts to the next level.”

Since the Emergency Declaration, nearly 1,000 first responders have been trained to carry, handle, and administer naloxone, and ADHS has provided almost 4,000 naloxone kits to law enforcement agencies to help reverse overdoses. 

Click Here To Read The Report:

Click Here To Learn More About What Our State Is Doing:

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Effective Date of PMP Law Mandates - Updated PMP Fact Sheet & Check List

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 24, 2017
According to the Arizona Board of Pharmacy, the Controlled Substance Prescription Monitoring Program is now integrated with Health Current, the statewide health information exchange. Therefore, the new requirements to check the PMP will go into effect on October 16. Attached is an updated version of the fact sheet and checklist reflecting these new changes.

Download File (PDF)

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PA Psychiatry Residency Program

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center/Baylor College of Medicine PA Residency in Psychiatry/Mental Health is now receiving applications for our 2018-2019 year.

We currently have 5 PA Psychiatry residents in our program in adult psychiatry, which is one year in length and provides about 500 hours of didactic and 2000 hours of clinical training in psychiatry. Our residents train alongside their physician counterparts and take the same didactic classes and lectures as the physician residents.

Our graduates are eligible to sit for the NCCPA CAQ in Psychiatry, which makes them very valuable clinicians in the field of Mental Health, which has a need for well-trained and qualified providers exceeding the current number of jobs available.

I am attaching our program brochure and application to this email. Please feel free to forward to any of your PA colleagues or PA students who may be interested in a 1-year residency program as a Psychiatry PA.

Our current stipend is $83,922, for the year-long residency, which we believe is extremely competitive for the excellent training we are offering.

After reviewing our brochure and application form, I would be happy to answer any of your questions or those of your members. I can be reached at 281-770-5461.

Kind Regards,

J. Michael Smith, DHSc, MPAS, PA-C, CAQ - Psychiatry Post-Graduate PA Mental Health Residency Training Director Physician Assistant, ACCESS Clinic, GMHC Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston, Texas CAPT, Medical Service Corps, USN, Retired

Download File (PDF)

 Attached Files:

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AAPA veterans group honors Arizona PA

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 14, 2017

The AAPA's Veteran Caucus honored Manley for his contributions to the field and to his patients in an underserved area roughly 3 hours northwest of Phoenix on the eastern edge of the Mojave Desert. Kingman is the county seat there and holds roughly 10 percent of the county's 200,000 residents.

Manley grew up in Kingman and served in the US Navy. He eventually returned to northwest Arizona after living in San Diego and Sacramento, California. He went to work for Kingman Regional Medical Center.

You can learn more about Manley from his Q&A with KRMC in 2012

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ATSU honors outstanding PA grads

Posted By Shelley Lloyd, Thursday, August 10, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 10, 2017

ATSU's latest batch of prospective physician assistants has left the nest, and among them are eight outstanding members recognized for a variety of achievements.

Within the Department of Physician Assistant Studies (DPAS) graduating class, ATSU called special attention to the following graduates for their efforts:

Chair's Award

Yoohna Kim


Leadership Award

Sarah Murawski


Faculty Award (Didactic Phase)

Brittney Thompson


Faculty Award (Clinical Phase)

Thomas Onderlinde



Nia Jarrett

Christopher Fasulo


Tenacity Award

Kate Lee


Courage Award

Keaton Marsh


If you know them, shake their hands or buy them that fancy coffee drink they crave.

Congratulations to all DPAS graduates! We'll have more names and categories from the other programs in a few weeks, so stay tuned.

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Negotiation and the art of work-life balance

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Hours worked and the quality of staff surrounding you are worth more than $120,000 a year, an early-career PA found.

During a recent job change, this General Surgery PA discovered that big bucks did not outweigh the "intangibles" of a potential job in vascular surgery – namely, more hours, more call, and more angst in the OR.

In other words: More money, more problems. (Thank you, Jay-Z.)

In his anonymous column for Doximity under the screen name "PA cents," the PA outlines an approach to the negotiation table. The PA makes a wonderful statement: That you are interviewing your potential employer as much as they are interviewing you.

"Even though the salary was more than what I was currently making the demands of the job were going to be much more," PAcents writes. "Another issue that made me a little hesitant is that there had been a lot of short turnover from his previous PAs. I had asked about this in my interview and there were reasons for why each of them had left but it was a little concerning."

Add that to the potential employer's lack of a bonus structure but promise to enact one after acceptance of the job, and you have a recipe for rejection, PA cents writes.

In the end, PAcents passed up the opportunity. But we hope the insights powered him along to finding that perfect surgical gig, and that readers gained some new insights of their own for the negotiation table.

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Who dat? ATSU's founding family for the Southwest campus

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Can you name everyone in this photo? If so, send us an email at, and we'll come up with some sort of prize or swag bag for you at the fall conference.

The Kirksville College of Medicine opened up its Southwest campus in Mesa in 1995. It has since grown to include allied health professions, dentistry, and a nursing partnership. 

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NCCPA chief talks about profession, recertification on Aug. 30

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 7, 2017

The profession's highest-ranking certification authority says PAs are "enjoying tremendous acceptance and success" as a result of recertification exams, but declined to release details of any potential alternatives to the increasingly controversial testing process.

Dr. Dawn Morton-Rias, a Brooklyn-based physician assistant for 30 years, professor, and president/CEO of the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants since 2014, says everyone is an equal stakeholder in the process to overhaul the NCCPA's testing guidelines.

"There's a myth out there that PAs aren't involved in what NCCPA does, and that's not true," she says.

Dr. Morton-Rias will be speaking to the Arizona Regulatory Board of Physician Assistants on Wednesday, August 30, at 1 p.m. at the Arizona Medical Board's conference room near Loop 101 and Shea Boulevard in Scottsdale.

She will be providing statistics on the PA profession in Arizona and nationally, as well as answering questions from the board. She says she expects her presentation to last about 20 minutes if time allows.

Proponents of the certification and recertification testing have stated it results in better health care outcomes and a stronger PA workforce. Detractors say recertification is unnecessary or unfairly general when most PAs work in specialties, and that no direct studies have linked recertification to better healthcare outcomes.

To hear our 10-minute conversation with Rias, click here. (MP3, 7MB)

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Arizona Clinician Survey: Hepatitis C Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices

Posted By Administration, Thursday, June 22, 2017

Arizona clinicians:

The Arizona Department of Health Services and the University of Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix are partnering in a new study surveying how physician knowledge, attitudes and practices impact healthcare access for Hepatitis C patients in Arizona.

The survey takes several minutes to complete. All answers will be recorded anonymously, and will not be used for any purpose other than that stated above.

Participation in this study is completely voluntary and is open to any healthcare provider interested in participating. An Institutional Review Board responsible for human subjects research at The University of Arizona has reviewed this project and found it to be in compliance with all state and federal regulations and University policies designed to protect the rights and welfare of participants in research.


Please click here to begin the survey.


Thank you very much for your time.  Please forward to Arizona clinician groups and listservs as appropriate.


Thank you,
Arizona Department of Health Services

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5 Ways for Healthcare Providers to Get Ready for New Medicare Cards

Posted By Administration, Monday, June 19, 2017
Updated: Sunday, June 18, 2017

By Greg Dill

Medicare is taking steps to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. Through this initiative, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will prevent fraud, fight identity theft, protect Medicare funds, and secure the private medical and financial information of our Medicare beneficiaries. 

CMS will issue new Medicare cards with a unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) to replace the existing Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN), both on the cards and in various CMS systems we use now. We’ll start mailing new cards to people with Medicare in April 2018. All Medicare cards will be replaced by April 2019.

CMS is committed to helping healthcare providers adapt to the new Medicare cards. We want to make this process as easy as possible for you, your patients, and your staff. Based on feedback from providers, practice managers and other stakeholders, CMS is developing capabilities for doctors and other providers to look up the new MBI numbers through a secure tool from the point of service. To make this change easier for you and your business operations, there’s a 21-month transition period during which all providers will be able to use either the MBI or the HICN for billing purposes. 

Therefore, even though your systems will need to be able to accept the new MBI format by April 2018, you can continue to bill and file healthcare claims using a patient’s HICN during the transition period. We encourage you to work with your billing vendor to make sure your system is updated to reflect these changes.

Beginning in April 2018, Medicare patients will come to your office with new cards in hand. We’re committed to giving you information to help your office get ready for new Medicare cards and MBIs.

Here are 5 steps you can take today to help your office or healthcare facility get ready:

  1. Go to our provider website and sign-up to for the weekly MLN Connects® newsletter.  
  2. Attend our quarterly calls to get more information. We’ll let you know when calls are scheduled in the MLN Connects newsletter.
  3. Verify all of your Medicare patients’ addresses. If the addresses you have on file are different than the Medicare address you get on electronic eligibility transactions, ask your patients to contact Social Security and update their Medicare records.
  4. Work with us to help your Medicare patients adjust to their new Medicare card. This fall, we’ll make available helpful information that you can display about the new Medicare cards. Hang posters in your offices to help us spread the word.
  5. Test your system changes and work with your billing office staff to be sure your office is ready to use the new MBI format.

We’ll keep working closely with you to answer your questions and hear your concerns. To learn more, visit:


Greg Dill is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Territories.

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