For our first Opioid Hero of the Month we would like to introduce Dr. Mario san Bartolome! He is a triple boarded physician in family medicine, addiction medicine, and preventive medicine. He attended medical school at UC Irvine’s School of Medicine in the joint MD/MBA program, and completed his residency at Long Beach Memorial Hospital. Growing up, Dr. Mario was exposed to some of the challenges that vulnerable populations faced, such as, limited access to healthcare and language barriers -- often having to translate for his family members at local health clinics. These challenges inspired Dr. Mario to pursue medicine. Dr. Mario began his efforts against the Opioid Epidemic during his medical training where he frequently saw patients with substance use disorders. Although these patients presented with addiction problems, Dr. Mario understood that they struggled with a range of other issues including homelessness or domestic abuse. While some providers asked what their patients needed, Dr. Mario asked how these needs arose. Although many see Addiction Medicine as part of the field of Psychiatry, Dr. Mario sees it as an extension of family medicine in that the patient needs to be treated holistically. His experiences have helped him understand the challenges low socioeconomic groups face when they add a substance use disorder on top of their already vulnerable positions in society.
January 2021 - Dr. Mario san Bartolome
Current work, and Effects of COVID-19
Currently Dr. Mario is working as the National Medical Director of Substance Use Disorder and Social Determinants of Health at Molina Healthcare. He is also the treasurer on the Board of Directors for the California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM), Co-Chair for the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), and the Committee for Practice Management and Regulatory Affairs. Locally, he works with the coalition of community clinics to assist Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) with their Addiction Medicine needs. In particular, he has done recent work with Korean Community Services (KCS) Healthcare in Orange County.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted many physicians, including Dr. Mario, by pushing a transition to telemedicine. Dr. Mario believes that telemedicine has improved the access of care during these times, and has proved to be a useful tool for many providers and patients who need long term treatments and are at high risk to COVID-19. Nowadays Dr. Mario assists in the efforts of the Opioid epidemic through training individuals to get X-waivered, mentoring providers, and improving Addiction Medicine programs across the state.
Accomplishments, Future plans, and More
Some of Dr. Mario’s accomplishments include his work at Molina Healthcare, where he helped lead the creation of both the Pain Safety Initiative and an Opioid Usage Model of Care which has helped redesign care management across 15 states. It helped create uniformity in opioid care for providers, policymakers, and treatments. In the short term, Dr. Mario looks to continue to support the development of opioid prescribers in the OC area, such as at correctional facilities. Working with the Coalition of Community clinics he looks to improve the impact of the OC’s FQHCs by educating his colleagues on the necessary training to prescribe these opioid treatment plans. In the long term, and the bigger picture Dr. Mario looks to improve state and national policies around substance abuse from addiction medicine nomenclature to aligning policies to benefit patients with OUDs and their families.
Some of the organizations Dr. Mario would like to recognize include CSAM for having some of the most amazing individuals that want to improve the lives of folks with substance use disorder. Also the Be Well Initiative from MindOC that is a collaborative group of providers in Orange County that exemplifies the team effort that is quintessential for the efforts against the Opioid Epidemic.
Overall, if you were to ever receive a piece of Dr. Mario’s wisdom you will feel his passion radiate throughout the room regardless if it is in person or through a Zoom call. Dr. Mario’s ability to help his patient’s have the courage to self actualize and overcome their challenges they initially did not believe they could overcome is amazing and something only gained through the years of experience he has gone through.
The Opioid Epidemic Hero of the Month is a new series we're starting in 2021 to recognize and appreciate the providers and heroes who are contributing to the battle against the Opioid Epidemic. Each month we will be highlighting a new Hero that has helped the community of Orange County be a safer place.
Is there an Opioid Epidemic Hero in your community in Orange County? If so, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org! We would love to include them in our series.
Opioid Epidemic Hero of the Month