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Rauner Has Signed a Bill Expanding Access to Medical Cannabis in Response to Opioid Epidemic

Opioid Cannabis Bill

Gaurav Dubey, MS and Rahul Khare, MD

Illinois, a state known for strict medical cannabis laws, just took a major step in easing those regulations and expanding access in an effort to combat the opioid epidemic. IL Governor, Bruce Rauner, has now signed Senate Bill 336 into law, which includes a major provision allowing patients to swap out their opioid narcotic prescriptions for medical cannabis access. Statistics from the IL Department of Health indicate almost 2,200 deaths in 2017 from opioids (up from 1,072 in 2013), with almost half being attributed to heroin (ILDPH, 2018). The expansion of the state’s medical cannabis program is the proposed solution to this crisis that is outlined in the bill.

Passing with unwavering bipartisan support across the IL house and senate floors, lawmakers desperately hope the bill will help quell the flames of the opioid endemic by dissolving prior sociopolitical and bureaucratic barriers to medical cannabis access. Additionally, it will offer a safer alternative to narcotic painkillers which are notorious for causing overdoses and deaths across the country in what is being called “the opioid alternative program”.

Currently, there are many requirements by the state to obtain a medical cannabis card, with fingerprinting and criminal background checks being one of the most restrictive and contentious regulations. However, in the new bill currently being signed into law by Gov. Rauner, this provision would go up in smoke, along with several others that make access to medical cannabis more difficult. Prospective patients applying to the traditional medical cannabis pilot program can expect lower wait times and will eventually have (estimated to start in January, 2019) immediate interim access to smaller amounts of medical cannabis (2.5g every two weeks) while their application for long term program membership processes with the state. Previously, patients had to wait 60-120 days to receive their medical cannabis cards, says the bill’s sponsor, IL democratic Sen. Don Harmon, quoted in a recent piece by the Herald Review.

Likewise, patients participating in the opioid alternative program can take qualifying forms from a physician straight to the dispensary and purchase 2.5 grams of cannabis every two weeks for up to 90 days, giving them access to the plant-based medicine for a similar length of time that they would be prescribed opioids (ILGA, 2018). Skeptics claim this is a dangerous step towards increased addiction towards cannabis and even opiates, however, the science suggests otherwise. Several recent studies have demonstrated the role of our internal endocannabinoid system in the perception of pain and the efficacy of cannabis in treating it (Lucas, 2012)(Fine & Rosenfeld, 2013)(Fanelli et al., 2017)(Corroon et al., 2017)(Haroutounian et al., 2016)(Vigil et al., 2017). Of course, the stark differences in mortality rates between cannabis and opioids are to be reckoned with by the opposition; to this day, cannabis has not been attributed to a single fatal overdose. Needless to say, the skyrocketing death tolls from opioid overdose help put the urgency for legislation like this into perspective. To read an in-depth, scientific review on how cannabis is combating the opioid epidemic, check out my article on The Medical Cannabis Community website here.

Policymakers and healthcare professionals alike hope increasing access to medical cannabis as an alternative to opioid narcotics could help mitigate the endemic here in Illinois. Legislation concerning medical cannabis in IL, as defined by the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, restricts use to only those patients certified by their physician as having at least one of about 40 “debilitating medical conditions”. Currently, intractable chronic pain is not one of them. However, the new bill currently being signed into law allows for physician authorization to access to medical cannabis as an alternative to opioid painkiller prescriptions. Longitudinal and statistical analyses indeed confirm reduced opioid prescriptions, overdoses and deaths in states that have implemented successful medical cannabis programs (Bradford et al., 2018) (Vigil et al., 2017). It is likely a more expansive and streamlined program in Illinois may help reduce opioid mortality rates as well—at least that is the hope.

With elections looming in the near future, democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker leads recent polls and actively advocates for full recreational cannabis legalization. It is speculated that Rauner, a longstanding critic of cannabis, has signed Senate Bill 336 due to its political popularity among Illinois residents.  How effective this bill will be at battling the opioid epidemic here in Illinois remains to be seen. However, scientific and epidemiological data investigating cannabis for pain and cannabis programs on public health have shown to be promising.

If you are interested in getting your medical cannabis card, Innovative Express Care can help you get your card in the most efficient manner possible. We offer what nobody else offers:

  • No processing fees
  • We take insurance (most cost-effective way to get your card)
  • We guarantee our work
  • We can help you with the opioid alternative program (which will likely start in January, 2019)
  • Education on cannabis, including: THC, CBD, and terpenes
  • Continued care, even after you receive your card, to help you get the right strains

Don’t go to any other doctor’s office for your medical cannabis card. We will help with your entire process. Just fill out the form and we will call you within 2 business days. We offer patient appointments within 5 days.

Innovative Express Care Among the First in Chicago to Sync Health Data with Apple Health Records

Lincoln Park clinic known for marrying technology and healthcare to enhance the patient experience puts health data on iPhone for one-touch access to lab results, health history

Chicago – Innovative Express Care is now connected to Apple Health Records, allowing patients access to their personal health data via their iPhone. The primary and urgent care clinic located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, is among the early adopters using the new feature within Apple’s Health application, and is one of only a few clinics in the Chicagoland area on Apple Health Records to date.

Bringing technology and modern conveniences together to improve the health care experience has been a cornerstone of Innovative Express Care’s mission since the clinic opened in 2015. “Our goal is to make access to quality healthcare more convenient,” said Rahul Khare, MD, president and founder of Innovative Express Care. “From online scheduling, to virtual telemedicine appointments that save patients a trip to the clinic for a routine follow up or minor illness, we use technology in our everyday practice to enhance our patient experience. Connecting our electronic health record with the Health Records feature on iPhone was a natural fit for our practice.”

Patients who sign in to Apple Health, which comes installed on all iPhones and was updated with IOS 11.3, can easily retrieve their electronic health record, allowing them to see lab results, immunizations, medications, procedures and more. As more practices join Apple Health Records, patients will have the ability to organize and access health information, across many providers, in one convenient location. Aggregating health data helps patients effectively manage their health and may support better reporting of health history, thereby improving continuity of care.

“Being able to retrieve health data from your iPhone has many conveniences and is especially helpful for patients who come to us for urgent care needs and wish to share test results or a diagnosis with their primary care physician,” said Khare. “It is also great for college students who turn to us for health needs during the school year, but may see another provider in their hometown during the summer months.”

Innovative Express Care offers walk-in urgent care, primary care and telemedicine appointments. For more information on services provided, please visit https://innovativeexpresscare.com.

Physical Exams: A Healthy Start to the School Year

Come get your back-to-school physical and sports physicals done! Now only $50 per child.

Make an Appointment Today

 


Physical Exams: A Healthy Start to the School Year, Innovative Express Care

The first day of school may be weeks away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about getting your child in the right mental and physical condition for learning. And while your child may seem particularly healthy after a summer of running around and playing in the sun, a physical can be a great opportunity to identify any undetected problems and make sure that their development is on track.

Many parents assume that a “back to school” physical is only necessary for kids with chronic health problems, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. A doctor’s office is a safe place to discuss issues like bullying, drinking, smoking, drugs, sexual activity, and depression – any and all of which can greatly affect a child’s health. It’s important to have these more in-depth check-ins than the usual sports physical.

What does a routine physical involve?

The standard physical exam involves an assessment of hearing, eyesight, throat, lung, and abdomen health. For older children and teenagers, it will also usually include a personal discussion on social issues and any potential anxieties or stressors, particularly bullying and sexual activity.

You may be asked how long your child spends watching TV at home, what their diet consists of, and whether they partake in regular exercise. It is imperative that you answer these questions honestly. For kids 14 and up, the doctor will often ask the parents to leave the room so that the patient can feel comfortable giving candid answers to personal questions.

How should we prepare for the appointment?

There is no real preparation needed for a routine “back to school” physical besides making sure that your child is clean and dressed appropriately for an appointment with the doctor. For example, wearing a loose shirt and simple, easy-to-remove shoes is important because these garments will likely have to be taken off for physical measurements and checks.

In regards to older children and teenagers, please think about and get comfortable with the idea of the doctor asking you to step out of the room during a personal discussion. It can be difficult knowing that you are missing out on information about your child, but if it means that they are more likely to open up, you are advised to cooperate for the emotional health of your teenager.

Go Cubs, Go! Catch Dr. Khare, Catch!

 

Dr. Khare & The Cubs

Looks like Javy Baez isn’t the only one who has been slinging the leather this season…our own Dr. Khare managed to do the same at the Cubs’ pennant clinching game over at Wrigley field this past Saturday. Along with his son Dylan, he was able to snag the Contreras home run ball via a toss from Toles. Being such a good sport, Dylan and Rahul decided to give the ball back to Willson Contreras (in exchange for some great tickets to the World Series).

You can read the whole story from DNAInfo Chicago and Ariel Cheung.

Congrats guys and GO CUBS!

Leafly: Treating Medical Marijuana Patients in Illinois: One Doctor’s Perspective

MMJ in Illinois

Medical Marijuana in Illinois

Illinois’ medical marijuana pilot program is finally off the ground, with 25 dispensaries now operating in the state. Since the program’s November debut, medical marijuana in Illinois has recorded more than $1 million in sales. Some are worried, though, that the program could be in trouble before it’s had a chance to succeed due to low patient enrollment.

Our own Dr. Khare was recently able to sit down with Lisa Rough from Leafly, “The World’s Cannabis Resource” which connects patients with dispensaries and doctors to share his thoughts on the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program here in Illinois. He offers a variety of opinions and insights and we definitely think it’s worth the read!

Click below to read the full article.

Read More > 

Image Source: Purple Diesel

Tips To Help You Shop For Safer Toys This Holiday Season

safer toysWith the holiday season just around the corner, stores will soon be stocking their shelves with eye-catching toys and rolling out deals to draw families from one store to another.

Among all the hustle and bustle of pre-holiday rush, many parents will not (understandably) have the time or focus to read the warning labels on the toys they purchase. This can be a dangerous oversight.

In order to prevent accidents at home, we have outlined three major tips for choosing safe, age-appropriate toys this holiday season.

 

1) Read the age guidelines.

Every toy manufacturer includes guidelines that identify which age group can safely use the toy in question. Make sure to check these guidelines every time. It only takes a second, and buying the right toys for the right ages will allow the child to play safely and you to have peace of mind.

 

2) Watch out for small parts.

It is developmentally appropriate for small children to put things in their mouth – it’s simply how they experience the world. Knowing this, it is your job as a parent, caretaker, and/or loved one to prevent playtime choking hazards. But how do you know which toys are safe for a young child and which are not?

Here’s an easy test: any toy that is able to fit through a toilet paper tube is too small for any child under 3 years old. And inspect each toy carefully before handing it over — toys that seem innocuous in the packaging and easily pass the toilet paper tube test may have parts that break off and become hazardous. For example, dolls and teddy bears often have easily removable buttons or eyes. This can lead to a swallowed part at best or a choking incident at worst.

 

3) Avoid toys with button batteries.

Steer clear of any toy with a button battery that can be easily accessed by a child. Button batteries are the squat single-cell batteries used to power toys, watches, and hearing aids (among other items); their small, round shape and poisonous contents pose a big risk for young kids. Toy cars, light-up jewelry, and remotes are common culprits, so make sure to check that each and every battery-powered toy you buy (or household item within reach) is child-proof.

 

Kick Off National Diabetes Month with a Little Knowledge

 

Diabetes Month

November is National Diabetes Month, and it’s important that we all take the opportunity to educate ourselves on the harsh realities of this public health issue. Because the numbers are truly scary: the CDC reports that from 1980 through 2011, the population of Americans with diagnosed diabetes more than tripled (from 5.6 million to 20.9 million). Even more sobering: diabetes is now the seventh leading cause of death in the United States according to the CDC.

Alarming as these statistics are, education and support on the national level – plus proper medication, diet, and exercise on the personal level – can do so much. So read on!

What is diabetes?

The CDC defines diabetes simply as “a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal.” There are three known types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational.

What are the different types?

Type 1 diabetes — also known as juvenile diabetes – occurs when the body fails to produce insulin. People suffering from this type of diabetes will always need to take insulin. Type 1 diabetes typically affects people under 40, and especially teenagers.

Type 2 diabetes describes when cells are resistant to insulin or the body fails to produce the sufficient amount of insulin. Type 2 accounts for roughly 90% of all cases of diabetes.

Gestational diabetes affects pregnant women. According to studies, women whose diets are high in cholesterol before they become pregnant run a high risk of developing gestational diabetes.

How to Manage Type 2 Diabetes if Have It (and Prevent It if You Don’t)

If not managed properly, diabetes can lead to limb loss, coma, and even death. But with education and support, those with diabetes can lead long, healthy lives. We are focusing on tips to manage and prevent type 2 diabetes as such cases account for the vast majority of those diagnosed:

1) Feel better. There are many reasons to control your diabetes, but the most simple is often overlooked: you will feel better. With well-controlled diabetes, you will be less tired, have less bladder infections, and experience fewer skin issues.

2) Eat well. Watch what and when you eat. Try to avoid foods that are high in starch, calories, saturated fat, salt, and sugar, and focus instead on high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

3) Exercise often. While you might not feel like getting out and walking, your body will thank you afterwards with a boost of energy. Exercise lowers both blood pressure and blood sugar, which will make you feel better and help control your diabetes.

4) Sleep! Getting a good night’s rest is a great way to help control your sugar levels (and feel great!).

5) Stay informed. Every year, new developments come to light. Make sure to do your own research and regularly consult with your healthcare provider.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Innovative Express Care.

Tips to Prevent the Flu This Season in Chicago

flu seasonProtect yourself, loved ones, coworkers, and innocent bystanders by getting the flu vaccine this year. Chicago flu shots are important!

The benefits of the flu vaccine are many. Ideally, of course, the vaccine will prevent the virus altogether. If you do come down with the flu, however, the vaccine can help reduce symptoms. This latter detail may seem like a sad consolation prize, but it’s important, as easing symptoms will reduce your chances of hospitalization. One study showed a 71% reduction in flu-related hospitalizations among vaccinated adults and a 77% reduction for vaccinated individuals 55 years of age or older.

The flu vaccine is especially important for those already suffering from other conditions, including:

  • Chronic health conditions
  • Cardiac issues
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic lung disease

Pregnant women are also strongly encouraged to get the vaccine because they are at higher risk for complications from the virus.

The CDC suggests taking the following three major precautions to help control and prevent the spread of influenza this season:

1) Get the flu vaccine. Just do it! You will reduce your number of doctor visits, miss less work and school, and lower your risk of hospitalization.

2) Once the seasonal flu hits, avoid going being around people who are sick. If you get sick, stay away from others when possible. The CDC recommends staying home and away from others for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.

2) Practice good health habits to stop the spread of germs. What are good health habits? Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Keep communal surfaces and objects clean and disinfected.

In short: get the vaccine, avoid sick people (and quarantine yourself if you get sick), and keep your hands and home clean!

For more information about flu vaccines or schedule an appointment, contact Innovative Express Care.

5 Quick Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Diet

Do you find it hard to eat as many fruits and veggies as you should?

Welcome to the club. Many people struggle to incorporate the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables into their diet. It’s understandable – we’re all busy, and that Hot Pocket is just so easy to microwave – but it’s also really unhealthy. Fruits and vegetables contain important vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and fibers that your body needs to function properly. In the interest of upping your intake and lowering the stress associated with it, let’s look at these five easy tips for getting the most out of your diet.

1) Chop and prepare your veggies ahead of time, so they’re ready to use.

Preparation might sound like a lot of work, but chopping up a few fresh veggies will help you plan your meal choices all week. After you’ve chopped them up, put the veggies in a zip-lock bag, add two teaspoons of lemon juice, and shake it up! The ascorbic acid in lemon juice will keep it all fresher longer, so you can grab a handful of veggies all week without worrying about them wilting.

2) Add more fruits and veggies to your morning routine.

Cut up a banana, toss blueberries or apple slices into a carton of yogurt or oatmeal, and voila! You’ve got a healthy, fruit-packed way to start to your day. More of a veggie person? Throw some spinach, peppers, mushrooms, and onions into your eggs. Incorporate produce into your breakfast routine, and you can get two of your five daily servings of fruit and veggies within an hour of waking up!

3) Maximize your trip to the grocery store.

Do not buy prepackaged meals. Just don’t. Instead, opt for your favorite veggies, some meat, and plain potatoes. Need a little spice? Frying potatoes in coconut or olive oil with pepper and onion is still far better for you than French fries.

4) Go to your local farmer’s market this weekend and take some of your spoils to work every day next week.

If possible choose fresh, local veggies from your neighborhood farmer’s market. Not sure if your town or city has one? Try searching www.localharvest.org. Once you become accustomed to a higher intake of fruits and veggies, you may find yourself automatically reaching for bell pepper or carrots. Make it even easier on yourself by chopping up your favorite fruits and veggies and bringing them to work every day. At home, you can throw them in a bowl with a little lemon juice for a fresh, easy snack that will stay good all day.

5) Try your best to incorporate fruits and veggies into dinner every night.

Once you get started loading up on veggies, it will be increasingly easy to add veggies to various meals (especially if you do step 1!). Try cooking a fajita dish with peppers and onions, or add some peas to your rice. You could drizzle a light vinaigrette on spinach for a simple salad, or add mushrooms, bell peppers, snap peas, and chicken for a fancier dinner option!

The choices are endless when you learn to love veggies. Working them into your diet is easier than you think, and once you start, you’ll experience a range of benefits. Chief among them? Your skin will improve, you’ll feel fitter, your energy levels will rise, and your food bills will drop — a win for you and your wallet!