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Statement on the UMass Memorial Opioid Crisis Task Force


Contact: Tony Berry

508-793-5394 (O) 774-317-0422 (C)


WORCESTER, Mass. – We have created an Opioid Crisis Task Force to decrease opioid-associated morbidity and mortality in our community. Through the task force, we plan to: 

  • catalog and disseminate efforts to prevent, identify, and treat opioid use disorders through clinical and research endeavors
  • establish priorities for initiatives that emphasize evidence-based care for patients with opioid use disorders
  • collect data on markers of opioid use within our patient population to guide strategy
  • create a culture that removes the stigma associated with opioid addiction

We want to optimize access to treatment and empower our caregivers with the knowledge, tools, and facilities they need to care for our patients with integrity and compassion.

This Task Force acknowledges the challenges of opioid addiction that we face as a nation and more importantly, in our community. In less than 20 years, there have been more than 700,000 overdose deaths in the United States including more than 72,000 overdose deaths in 2017. While deaths have begun to decrease in Massachusetts, here in Worcester County we have seen an increase.

The task force is comprised of content experts, bedside caregivers and thought leaders from across the entire UMass Memorial Health Care spectrum. President and CEO Eric Dickson, MD, tapped Kavita M. Babu, MD, a toxicologist and emergency medicine physician at UMass Memorial, to lead the task force as the system’s Chief Opioid Officer. Dr. Babu is also an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

“Our caregivers see the scope of the opioid crisis across clinical environments. As an organization we have come to realize that a multidisciplinary approach that cuts across all phases of interactions with opioids is needed,” said Dr. Babu. “The task force has established some pretty aggressive timelines and goals – we have to when you consider that opioid overdose is the leading cause of preventable death among young adults. We are starting by conducting a gap analysis to help identifying our strengths and weaknesses. We believe we can leverage the vast resources of our academic medical center and align our efforts to make greater strides in preventing opioid-related illness and deaths."


UMass Memorial Health Care

UMass Memorial Health Care is the largest not-for-profit health care system in Central Massachusetts with more than 13,000 employees and 1,700 physicians, many of whom are members of UMass Memorial Medical Group. Our member hospitals and entities include UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital, UMass Memorial – Marlborough Hospital, UMass Memorial Medical Center and UMass Memorial – Community Healthlink, our behavioral health agency. With our teaching and research partner, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, our extensive primary care network and our cancer, diabetes, heart and vascular, orthopedic and surgery programs, UMass Memorial delivers safe, high-quality and compassionate care. Visit 

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