News

Doubleheader

The Twins were eliminated by the Astros yesterday, however, it’s still baseball season! In that spirit, I’m “pitching” a split doubleheader today in two different ballparks through the wonders of Zoom.

The first presentation is for the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association at its Correction Care Division’s Annual Conference. The subject is identification and management of substance withdrawal syndromes (I’m the medical director for two county jails).

CentraCare Health; St. Cloud, Minn.

The second outing is for CentraCare Health at its Opioid and Controlled Substances Prescribing Training. I’m the middle reliever in a line-up that includes Drs. Michael Massey (pain medicine) and Lynn McFarling (medical informatics). The two-hour event is designed to fulfill Minnesota’s new(ish) legislative mandate for provider education. My contribution deals with unhealthy substance use with special attention to patients with chronic pain syndromes.

CentraCare Health; St. Cloud, Minn.

Just click on the above images or hyperlinked text to access my PowerPoints. ✸

Heal the Sick

Downtown Minneapolis is bleak right now. The towers have been empty since the shelter-in-place order was issued last winter. Many buildings are boarded up due to property damage from rioting. Sirens are constantly going off because of the sharp increase in crime. Street vagrancy is prevalent outside of my office building.

The world is upside down, however, this abandoned church reminds me every morning to continue healing the sick. ✸

Former Second Church of Christ Scientist
228 South 12th Street; Minneapolis, Minnesota

Telehealth Addiction Care

There is currently considerable interest in telehealth addiction care. Allina Health began offering it in February 2019 to address geographic voids in greater Minnesota. We were thus well-positioned for virtual care when the Covid-19 pandemic occurred about a year later.

Jeff Wagner interviewed me on WCCO Television on September 12th about our work at Allina. Please see here and here for previous media appearances.

WCCO Television

Many thanks to Sarah Jackson with Media Minefield for her partnership on this timely and important subject! ✸

Happy Hour

Well, about 48 minutes.

Janet Lewis Muth, Director of Health Promotion at Carleton College, and I were guests today on MPR News with Angela Davis. We discussed happiness. Please see my earlier posts (and here, here and here) for more context.

Many thanks to Tim Burke, External Communications Advisor at Allina Health, for his partnership on this timely and important subject! ✸

Meditation Challenge

Stress, anxiety, depression and substance use have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. This has a lot people thinking about better self-care.

I’m helping one of my employers with a four-week “meditation challenge.” It grew out of a recent lunch and learn for employees that included some material on mindfulness. The more the merrier, so I’m sharing this with my entire social network.

Here’s the challenge: Meditate three times per day, generally in the morning when you wake up; sometime in the afternoon; and again in the evening right before you go to bed. Start with 5-minute sessions, increasing the duration week-by-week as follows:

  • Week 1: 5 minutes, 3 times per day
  • Week 2: 10 minutes, 3 times per day
  • Week 3: 15 minutes, 3 times per day
  • Week 4: 20 minutes, 3 times per day

In terms of technique:

  • Assume any comfortable position. I personally like a semi-supine position (see below)
  • Set a timer (e.g., on your phone) with a soft alarm
  • Close your eyes
  • Direct your attention to your breath. This might be your nose, chest or belly
  • Follow your breath in and out. Some people use simple mental mantras for each in-breath and out-breath. Examples are: in-out, deep-slow and calm-ease

Internal and external distractions will occur. Just let thoughts, emotions and sensations pass without judgment. Return to your breath, using a mantra, if needed. On the flip side, don’t worry if you feel sleepy or even doze off. Allow that to pass without judgment, too.

And that’s it!

Please let me know how you feel during and after the challenge.


I’ve greatly benefited from Alexander Technique lessons. One tip/trick is something called constructive rest, which involves the semi-supine position depicted below.

1. Head slightly supported by a softcover book (or two)
2. Arms slightly away from body (abducted), palms down (pronated)
3. Shoes off; feet about hip-width apart

Photo: Ayden Frenz

I’m also a fan of Muse, the brain-sensing headband, but that’s a post for another day. ✸

Acceptance Is the Answer

Linda Picone, the editor of Minnesota Medicine, tapped me for its “Joy of Medicine” feature. The extended interview appears in the September–October issue.

Minnesota Medicine

I’ll let Linda’s work speak for itself—it’s an absolute gem—but offer the following references for those who might want to go deeper:

Telehealth Addiction Care

Leah Beno interviewed me on KMSP Television yesterday morning about telehealth addiction care. Please see here and here for the context.

KMSP Television

Many thanks to Sarah Jackson with Media Minefield for her partnership on this timely and important subject! ✸

Telehealth Addiction Care

Mike Max interviewed me on WCCO Radio this morning about telehealth addiction care. Allina Health’s work that began at New Ulm Medical Center was the context

WCCO Radio

Here are some of my source documents

Many thanks to Sarah Jackson with Media Minefield for her partnership on this timely and important subject! ✸

Nicotine & Vaping WYNTK

I’m a longtime friend of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and have frequently collaborated with Hazelden Publishing on various educational offerings. What You Need to Know (WYNTK) is the latest series

We filmed the Nicotine & Vaping program in late February, which seems like years ago because of Covid-19. It’s now available for preview and purchase

Hazelden Publishing

Many thanks to Wes Thomsen and his crew at Hazelden Publishing for involving me in this project. My previous appearances can be found here and here. ✸