Health Department partnering with County Commission to pay for PDMP ordinance

Count Marion County among the Missouri counties that will be participating in the St. Louis County physician drug monitoring program (PDMP). Following extensive research into the program the Marion County Health Department Board has agreed to join.

Lyndon Bode, Marion County's presiding commissioner, said deciding to become a member is only the first of many steps that must be taken.

“Basically it's a work in progress,” he said. “The (Marion County) Health Department Board is looking at (writing) an ordinance and going ahead and joining up with the St. Louis (County) Department of Health through their drug monitoring program. There are still a lot of pieces that have to come together.”

A PDMP ordinance must now be crafted. That will involve a partnership between Marion County's Health Department and County Commission.

“Our other two commissioners (Larry Welch and Steve Begley) agreed and we voted Monday that we would cover half the cost of any legal work in preparing the ordinance. The Health Department would cover half the cost,” said Bode. “The Health Department will be the lead agency in preparing the ordinance.”

A private attorney, Ivan Schraeder, will be used to write the ordinance.

“He has worked with other counties and probably has an (PDMP) ordinance pretty well drafted that we can piggyback off. There's no need to re-invent the wheel,” said Bode.

According to Bode, it makes more sense to hire Schraeder to write the ordinance than it would to ask county prosecutor David Clayton to perform the task.

“The prosecutor has his hands full prosecuting criminals,” said the presiding commissioner. “This attorney, Ivan Schraeder, handles this sort of thing every day so we can let David continue with criminal prosecutions. He doesn't have the largest staff in the world and we definitely want the criminals prosecuted, but we want to work on ordinances, too. This is a way we can supplement that.”

Once the ordinance is written Clayton will be asked to review it.

“If there's any prosecution, which hopefully it never gets that far, but if it does he would be the one prosecuting, so we'll have his stamp of approval,” said Bode.

After Clayton gives the ordinance his blessing it will then be brought to the County Commission for its formal approval.

The final step would be the acceptance of Marion County into the PDMP by the St. Louis Health Department Board.

“There's still a long way to go,” said Bode. “It's a work in progress.”

Marion County likely won't officially join the PDMP for months.

“Nothing will happen within a few weeks. I look for it to happen probably in late spring or early summer,” said Bode. “It will take some time, but it's moving in that direction which is a good thing.”

The cost to Marion County to participate in the program will be zero for the first two years, thanks to a grant. After that the fee would be $1,211 a year, provided the state of Missouri — the only state in the U.S. without a PDMP — hasn't implemented such a program by then.

“The ultimate goal is for the state of Missouri to join all the other states that have a drug monitoring program. We're hoping in a couple of years the state of Missouri will become a part of that program, too. This (St. Louis County PDMP) will become obsolete when that happens.”

The possibility of joining the St. Louis County PDMP was brought before the County Commission by a handful of Marion County physicians on Oct. 30, 2017. While the commissioners took no official action, they voiced support. It was suggested that the program needed to go through the county Health Department.

On Nov. 29, 2017, representatives of the medical field, law enforcement and county government met with the Marion County Health Department Board regarding the St. Louis County program. Board members indicated they wanted to learn more about the St. Louis County PDMP before making a commitment. After researching the program in December the Health Department Board was ready to join at its January meeting.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com