Area health and business leaders will discuss new developments in today's health industry in an upcoming panel discussion.

The event will be 7-9 a.m. Dec. 5 at the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (NIIC), 3201 Stellhorn Road. Jessica Carender, NIIC partner engagement manager, will moderate a panel including:

  • Dr. Michael J. Mirro, chief academic research officer, Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation
  • John McDonald, CEO, ClearObject
  • Ethel Massing, innovation project specialist, Parkview Health
  • J.J. Lane Carroll, Head New Solutions Group Strategy, D&R, Swiss Re

Advance registration of $25 is required. Check-in/networking begins at 7 a.m. with the panel discussion beginning at 7:30 a.m.

Judges tackle opioid crisis

After more than two years of work, a judicial task force has come up with a plan for how judges can tackle the opioid addiction crisis.

The final report of the National Judicial Opioid Task Force determined that judges must engage in individualized assessments that include mental and behavioral health conditions, detoxification services -- including using medicine -- and psychosocial services to build resilience and recovery. 

The task force was co-chaired by Indiana Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush and Tennessee Director of Courts Deborah Taylor Tate.

The criminal justice system is the single largest source of referral to substance abuse treatment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 

However, the report notes that "the opioid epidemic is not just a criminal justice issue." For example, foster care rates have spiked in recent years as the crisis strains the nation's child welfare system.

The report also notes that judges must consider that substance abuse is a chronic, treatable disease when issuing orders and sentences. 

"The misuse of opioids such as heroin, morphine and prescription pain medications is not only a devastating public health crisis, it is critically affecting the administration of justice in courthouses throughout the United States, said Rush.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams welcomed the report, saying, "The opioid crisis has ravaged communities all over the country. Everyone has a stake in our response, including our court systems."

The task force was established in 2017 as the opioid epidemic increasingly impacted courts at all levels of the justice system: divorce, custody, foster care, bankruptcy, guardianship, business, workers compensation and more.

"This report is incredibly useful and also reflects a tremendous level of compassion for those living in communities across America who need our help," said Jim Carroll, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

"For years, the justice system knew how to be 'tough on drugs,' now is the time for us to become 'smart' on drugs," said Tate.

The findings of the report include:

  • Lack of access to education about quality, evidenced-based treatment including medication-based treatment.
  • The most significant impact of the epidemic involves cases with children and families
  • Congress and federal agencies must recognize state courts as essential partners in the response to the crisis
  • State courts must design programs and resources that will be effective responses to the next addiction crisis, not just opioids.

The full report is online at

Cindy Larson is a longtime Fort Wayne journalist and is a Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly reporter. To submit items, send email to or call 260-426-2640, Ext. 3369.

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