Healthcare Roundup—Abuse of opioid alternative on the rise; UPMC names new director for its aging institute 

Abuse of opioid alternative becoming more common 

Physicians who are cutting back on opioid prescriptions may offer pain patients the non-narcotic gabapentin as an alternative, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

However, abuse of gabapentin is on the rise in Appalachian states hit hard by the opioid epidemic. For example, a third of overdose deaths in Kentucky last year involved gabapentin. 

Some states are taking steps to control the flow of gabapentin, and Kentucky, in particular, has named the drug a controlled substance. (Stateline

Texas Health Resources announces $300M investment at Fort Worth campus 

Texas Health Resources will fund a $300 million expansion of its Texas Health Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, the system announced this week. 

The upgrades will include a new nine-story patient bed tower and improvements to surgical services. The expansion will add 144 patient beds, 15 surgical suites and new preoperative and postoperative sections to the campus. 

Construction is expected to begin later this year and be completed in 2021. (Announcement

UPMC names new director for its aging institute 

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center named Anne B. Newman, M.D., as the new head of the Aging Institute at UPMC and Pitt. 

Newman is a well-known geriatrician, epidemiologist and researcher, according to UPMC, and her work at the institute will be taking research and translating that into actionable clinical guidelines and policy. (Announcement

Protesters decry cutbacks to pediatric services at Baltimore hospital 

About 75 protesters gathered outside MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center this week following an announcement last month that would cut pediatric inpatient care. The hospital also announced it would combine the adult and pediatric emergency rooms to reduce costs amid a decline in pediatric admissions. 

Protesters pushed back on the decision, saying it's harmful to the community for the hospital to cut those services. 

MedStar Franklin Square will continue to offer a number of pediatric services, including neonatal intensive care, pediatric behavioral healthcare and pediatric ambulatory care. (The Baltimore Sun