First four rural hospitals launch program aimed at reducing opioid use

First four rural hospitals launch program aimed at reducing opioid use

The Billion Pill Pledge program, backed by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, is designed to support patients through surgery and recovery  

November 3, 2022 – Decatur County Hospital in Leon, Regional Medical Center in Manchester, Cherokee Regional Medical Center, and Floyd Valley Healthcare in Le Mars are the first four hospitals to announce participation in the Billion Pill Pledge program, supported by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.

In October, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced the initiative by Iowa City-based Goldfinch Health designed to prevent opioid addiction before it begins.

“Our office has worked hard to secure settlements from the companies that contributed to the opioid crisis. Now it’s time for state and local governments to use those funds to abate the crisis, including by preventing future addiction,” Miller said. “We are grateful to have these hospitals join us in this important work.”

Surgery has long been known as a gateway to long-term opioid painkiller use and dependence. Studies show 9% of surgery patients who have never used an opioid become long-term users of opioids after being legally prescribed opioids after a surgery. 

“We applaud Attorney General Miller for highlighting this issue and understanding the importance of prevention in addressing the opioid crisis,” said Gary Jordan, CEO/President of Cherokee Regional. “Opioid challenges are not just patient challenges. They are community challenges. The Billion Pill Pledge program will help us to better serve our community.”

Through the Billion Pill Pledge program, each hospital will enhance its surgery protocols and optimize pain management around surgery. These industry-leading approaches are designed to enhance patients’ preparation for surgery, better manage any surgery-related pain, and minimize opioid use both before and after surgery.

“We are proud to be one of the first hospitals in northeast Iowa to partner with the Billion Pill Pledge program. With this program, we are continuing to help patients recover from surgical procedures with pain management techniques all while being conscious of the opioid crisis in our country,” shared Danette Kramer, RMC Manchester CEO. “We are excited to see how this program can maintain our pain management process while also helping reduce the amount of opioids in our community.”

As a part of this program, patients will have access to a Goldfinch nurse navigator who are experts in surgery and recovery. Patients will receive a “Prepared for Surgery” care package before surgery. This box includes a number of items key to optimizing a patient’s surgery experience. Goldfinch nurses will also support patients during the critical period before and after surgery to help increase the use of opioid minimizing surgery protocols.

“We are excited to be the first hospital in southern Iowa to be involved in the Billion Pill Pledge program. This program is vital in helping our community thrive by doing our part to reduce the number of unnecessary opioid pills in our homes and in our medicine cabinets” said Mike Johnston, Decatur County Hospital CEO. “This program means our patients have access to the resources they need to confidently prepare for and successfully recover from surgery.”

The mission of the Billion Pill Pledge is to reduce leftover opioids after surgery in the United States by 1 billion pills each year, thereby avoiding those pills being possibly diverted to unauthorized use by others. The initial phase of the Billion Pill Pledge will be to engage 10 rural hospitals and as the remaining hospitals are finalized those will be announced.

Miller is using money from a settlement with consultant McKinsey & Co. to support the Billion Pill Pledge program. 

The Billion Pill Pledge initiative joins another resource announced in September by Attorney General Miller. provides a pathway to recovery for Iowans with Opioid Use Disorder and their loved ones.

Goldfinch Health is dedicated to enhancing surgical outcomes, improving the surgery experience for patients, and reducing opioid use.

For more information about the Billion Pill Pledge program, please contact: Meredith Allan: